AMES, Iowa -- Quick thoughts on No. 6 Kansas’ 108-96 overtime win over Iowa State on Monday night.
Overview: This was a game that was dictated by what happened beyond the arc. From start to finish, Iowa State’s plan was clear. The Cyclones planned to beat Kansas from the 3-point line.
As they started to heat up, Kansas tried to match them. The exchanges anchored an exciting game at the Hilton Coliseum. Kansas held a slight advantage at halftime, following Naadir Tharpe's layup on Kansas’ last possession. Kansas shot 47 percent from the field before the break. The Jayhawks used an 11-3 rally to overcome Iowa State’s 14-7 start. They also outscored Iowa State 20-8 inside in the first half. But the Cyclones stayed close via the 3-ball. They went 6-for-15 from the 3-point line in the first half. And their success from the 3-point line continued in the second half. With 5:50 to play, the Cyclones had a 76-72 edge over Kansas after hitting eight of their first 13 3-pointers in the second half. The two battled down the stretch in one of the season’s most entertaining affairs.
Turning point: There were several in the final minutes of regulation. Iowa State’s 3-point shooting was nothing short of ridiculous. Korie Lucious' 3-pointer near the five-minute mark gave Iowa State a seven-point lead. The crowd went nuts. Kansas' Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey scored on back-to-back transition layups and cut Iowa State’s lead to three points. Tyrus McGee hit another big 3-pointer in the final minutes to extend Iowa State’s lead to six. Wow. What a game. Elijah Johnson’s 3-point play cut Iowa State’s late lead to two points again. Lucious converted a turnover into a pair of free throws on the other end. Travis Releford was fouled by Chris Babb with 78 seconds to play during a scramble for a loose ball, then hit both free throws, making it 84-82 Iowa State. Freshman Georges Niang hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minute to give Iowa State a five-point edge with 35.7 seconds to play. Then, Johnson hit another 3-pointer. Iowa State led by two points with 23.1 seconds to go when Lucious knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the game. Except he didn’t. Johnson hit another ridiculous 3-pointer to cut Iowa State’s lead to one. And Lucious made just one free throw on the other end. Johnson drove to the basket and drew a foul. With 4.9 seconds to go, Johnson hit both free throws, forcing the game into overtime.
Overtime: Johnson scored on a layup. Will Clyburn answered on the other end. Johnson scored on a runner on the next possession. Releford hit a 3. Then, Johnson hit another 3-pointer with 2:03 to play and gave KU a 100-92 edge in overtime. The Cyclones began to collapse again in overtime, similar to their first matchup of the year against KU, a 97-89 overtime loss at the Phog. But the Cyclones kept fighting. A Kansas turnover on the inbounds pass led to a Will Clyburn drive and Jeff Withey foul. It was Withey’s fifth foul ... officially. Clyburn hit one of two free throws to cut KU’s lead to four points with 1:30 to go. But Johnson crushed Iowa State’s dreams with another 3-pointer in the final minute. Naadir Tharpe’s free throw increased the Jayhawks’ lead to eight points, 104-96. Fans left the building. Final score? It was 108-96 after Johnson’s dunk with 2.5 seconds to play.
Key player: McGee (22 points) helped Iowa State match KU in regulation. But Johnson -- who scored career-high 39 points, the highest tally for a Big 12 player this season and the highest total for a Kansas player since Paul Pierce in 1997 -- was the star of the show.
Key stat: Iowa State shot 17-for-41 from the 3-point line. The 17 3-pointers established a school record.
Next game: Iowa State will play at Oklahoma on Saturday. Kansas will face West Virginia on Saturday.