Jalen Wilson scored 20 points to boost No. 8 Kansas to Tuesday’s home win against seventh-ranked Kansas State, giving him at least that many in five straight games.
The Jayhawks (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) likely will need his production again Saturday afternoon when they visit No. 13 Iowa State (15-6, 6-3) for a conference clash in Ames, Iowa.
Kansas also got 19 points from its bench against Kansas State, tops for the team in conference play this season.
“We’re gonna be decent offensively or pretty good offensively if they have to guard five guys,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “I mean, let’s just call it like it is.”
Iowa State has lost three of four and is coming off Monday’s 80-77 overtime setback at Texas Tech, an especially gut-wrenching affair that saw the Cyclones squander a 17-point halftime lead and a 23-point advantage with 12 minutes to go.
The Cyclones went 3-for-16 from the field in the final 10 minutes of regulation and overtime, struggling to handle the Red Raiders’ defense.
“They just decided they were going to crank up the pressure, really come after us and try to spread us out,” Cyclones coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “We got out of sorts.”
Minutes leader Caleb Grill, who had been dealing with lower back issues, shined after a one-game absence. Grill scored 24 points on a career-best eight 3-pointers.
Still, he could have used more consistent support. Iowa State committed 17 turnovers and was just 12-for-21 from the free throw line. While Grill went 8-for-12 from deep, his teammates were 1-for-15.
“This isn’t a time to figure out whose fault it was and doom and gloom,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve had some really great moments. We’re going to continue to have some great moments.”
To be sure, many of those highlights have come at Hilton Coliseum, where the Cyclones are 11-0 this season. In their most recent action on their home floor, the Cyclones edged then-No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Jan. 24.
It was Iowa State’s fifth victory against a Top 25 foe this season. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, have four.
Kansas is eyeing a regular-season sweep of Iowa State on the heels of a 62-60 home victory on Jan. 14.
KJ Adams Jr. snapped a late tie with a basket in the paint before Grill’s would-be, game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer was no good.
Gradey Dick scored 21 points to lead the Jayhawks, Wilson had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds and Adams chipped in 15 points.
Iowa State’s Gabe Kalscheur led all scorers with 23 points.
After the Kansas State victory, Self said he thought the conference’s ultimate regular-season champ only could afford five or six league losses.
“But I’ve been wrong before,” Self said. “For us to have a chance, we’re going to have to go steal a couple and then hold serve at home. But it’s different, though, because even holding serve at home has become more difficult than what it ever has in years past.”
The Jayhawks hold a 189-66 edge in the all-time series against the Cyclones.
–Field Level Media