University of Kansas

Lack of poise on road haunts KU as Iowa State rallies for 85-72 win

Long faces dominated the KU bench as time ran out on the Jayhawks Monday night against Iowa State.
Long faces dominated the KU bench as time ran out on the Jayhawks Monday night against Iowa State. rsugg@kcstar.com

Bill Self looked away from the action toward his bench, at no one in particular, and softly shook his head.

This time, Wayne Selden was pickpocketed by Abdel Nader, who finished the run-out at the free throw line. It was Kansas’ fifth straight turnover and Iowa State was on its way to an 85-72 victory in a game the Jayhawks commanded early on.

But they lost control of the game and the Big 12 race, falling behind three others as their league record fell to 5-3 and 16-4 overall.

This happened, Bill Self believed, because KU lost its poise.

“We haven’t played with a lot of poise away from home,” Self said. “We probably played better tonight than our last two road games because at least we had a good stretch before we stunk.”

Indeed, the fourth-ranked Jayhawks appeared to be in a good place, leading 50-42 with a shade over 15 minutes remaining. They had added one point to a halftime lead, and this one was headed in a different direction than the rarely competitive recent losses at West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

Read Next

But a quick Iowa State jab — three-pointers by Matt Thomas and Monte Morris around a Devonte’ Graham miss — quickly closed the gap to two.

At that point, it was anybody’s game, and Iowa State seized it minutes later. Iowa State’s 11-0 run fueled by the KU turnovers created a 66-57 lead.

Kansas had one last gasp, scoring five straight and twice closing to four, thanks to six of Perry Ellis’ 23 points. But here’s where lack of poise once again became a factor.

“If we could have just puttered around with the ball, throw it to Perry and let Perry go…” Self said. “Then when things started going south we lost all our defensive energy too.”

This after a terrific start. In the first half, the ball moved, looks were open and shots fell. After playing in quicksand early in recent games, the Jayhawks were sharp early. Ellis got inside for early, Brannen Greene swished a pair of three-pointers. The guards were active.

It added up to a 43-36 halftime lead that ended with an exclamation point when Graham blocked a Morris shot, got the ball to Ellis, who fed Frank Mason for a layup at the buzzer. The Jayhawks had quieted the Hilton Coliseum crowd and bounced to the locker room at the break.

Kansas hit 58 percent in the first half, making 5 of 11 from beyond the arc, and Iowa State, the Big 12’s top shooting team, was a chilly 41.2 percent.

Perhaps most discouraging for Kansas after the break was the play of the backcourt. The Jayhawks seemed to have settled on Landen Lucas as a fifth starter, and his hard work on the boards — a game-high nine rebounds — must offset his lack of production. He finished with two points Monday.

Ellis is having the best season of his four-year career, but the difference needs to be in a backcourt of point guards, Mason and Graham, along with Selden.

There was no edge Monday, and Mason, whose line included three assists and six turnovers to accompany his 16 points, shouldered the blame.

“I had too many turnovers, and I don’t think I did a good job of getting my teammates easy shots,” Mason said. “We didn’t stick to the game plan on the defensive end. On both ends, I think we did a bad job.”

Self wasn’t going to let Mason wear all of it. Although he didn’t mention him by name, Self flashed a scowl after a quick-trigger Selden three-point attempt in the first half.

Read Next

“I think it’s very demoralizing when you leave a timeout saying you’re going to run a play, and then the play is broken off and the guy just cranks up a three,” Self said. “If we wanted him to shoot a three with 25 left on the clock we would have told him to do that as opposed to doing something different and crank up a bad shot.

“That’s demoralizing.”

Kansas didn’t have much of an answer for Morris, who finished with 21 points, nine assists and no turnovers. Morris entered the game leading the Big 12 in turnover ratio at 4.5/1. He’s bidding to lead the nation in that statistic for the third straight year.

Morris always seemed to make the big shot or locate the right shooter. On a night when Georges Niang finished with 19 and the much-improved Abdel Nader had 17, Morris was the Cyclones’ critical component.

He now has helped Iowa State defeat the Jayhawks four times in the last five meetings. That never had been accomplished by a Big 12 team against the Self-coached Jayhawks. Indeed, among the fashion statements made by Iowa State fans were T-shirts that read, “Beat Kansas. Again.”

It also means KU has lost three straight road conference games for a second straight season. The Jayhawks overcame the slump last year to post an 11th straight Big 12 title. But after Monday, they are tied for fourth place with the Cyclones and in search of poise on the road.

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

No. 14 IOWA STATE 85, No. 4 KANSAS 72

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Mason III

32

6-11

3-4

0-6

3

3

16

Selden Jr.

30

4-10

2-4

0-2

1

4

11

Graham

35

3-7

0-0

1-4

4

3

7

Lucas

21

1-1

0-0

3-9

0

4

2

Ellis

36

10-18

3-3

1-5

1

1

23

Greene

24

3-5

1-1

0-4

3

0

9

Traylor

10

1-3

0-0

0-2

1

2

2

Bragg Jr.

6

1-2

0-0

1-2

0

1

2

Diallo

4

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Vick

1

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Mykhailiuk

1

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

TEAM

1-1

Totals

200

29-58

9-12

7-35

13

18

72

Percentages: FG .500, FT .750. Three-Point Goals: 5-17, .294 (Greene 2-4, Mason III 1-2, Graham 1-3, Selden Jr. 1-6, Ellis 0-1, Vick 0-1). Blocked Shots: 3 (Traylor, Graham, Selden Jr.). Turnovers: 16 (Mason III 6, Graham 3, Lucas 2, Ellis, Bragg Jr., Selden Jr., Greene, Traylor). Steals: 2 (Mason III, Lucas). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

Iowa St.

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

McKay

27

2-4

2-2

1-5

1

1

6

Nader

36

6-9

2-2

0-3

3

2

17

Morris

40

7-14

5-7

2-4

9

3

21

Thomas

37

5-10

0-0

1-6

1

0

13

Niang

33

8-17

3-3

0-6

3

3

19

Burton

17

4-5

0-1

0-4

2

4

9

Ashton

10

0-3

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

TEAM

0-0

Totals

200

32-62

12-15

4-28

19

13

85

Percentages: FG .516, FT .800. Three-Point Goals: 9-21, .429 (Nader 3-3, Thomas 3-6, Morris 2-4, Burton 1-1, Ashton 0-2, Niang 0-5). Blocked Shots: 1 (McKay). Turnovers: 8 (Niang 3, Thomas 3, Nader, team). Steals: 10 (Thomas 4, Nader 4, Burton, Morris). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

Half: Kansas 43-36. Attendance: 14,384. Officials: Joe DeRosa, Mike Stuart, Kipp Kissinger.

Related stories from Kansas City Star

  Comments