It was the regular season finale for the Iowa State Cyclones as they faced off the #1 ranked Kansas Jayhawks at Allen Field House. The team came close to making history by becoming the first Iowa State team to beat the #1 team on the road, and just the third team in history to beat the #1 team twice in one season. But fate was not to be, as the Cyclones dropped a close game against the very talented Kansas Jayhawks, 85-78.
The Iowa State offense started off hot, with Georges Niang and Jameel McKay adding 4 points apiece while Matt Thomas added a pair of his own. But the defense wasn't able to stop the red-hot Kansas offense, who leaned on senior Perry Ellis who put up 5 of Kansas' first 11 points. Heading into the first media timeout, Kansas led 11-10.
Niang tied the game up out of the timeout by making a free throw, but Wayne Selden Jr. hit a three to put the Jayhawks back up, which sparked the Kansas offense. Perry Ellis made an easy layup while getting fouled by Niang, and after two offensive rebounds in the same possession, Landen Lucas made an easy layup of his own to put Kansas up 19-13.
But McKay sparked a Cyclone comeback, slamming one home. Abdel Nader then scored two more after getting an offensive board, while Niang kept it going, scoring 5 points in consecutive possessions, and the Cyclones tied the game at 22 with 9:50 remaining in the first half.
Doom seemed to strike the Cyclones seconds later, as Niang was called for his second foul. But the Cyclone defense was strong, setting up a 2-3 zone and preventing the Jawhawks from scoring heading into the under-8 timeout while taking a 24-22 lead.
Former Cyclone recruit Cheick Diallo had an immediate impact on the game once entering, getting an offensive board to tie the game up. Jamari Traylor then made a layup while Selden hit another clutch three, and in the blink of an eye, Kansas had a 5 point lead after trailing less than a minute before.
But McKay kept the Cyclones in it, getting rebound after rebound and making difficult shots to put the Cyclones within two until Ellis took charge and put the Jayhawks up 4.
Hallice Cooke made a nice drive to the hoop and dished it off to McKay, who was fouled putting it up and made both free throws but Ellis again made a nice move to keep the Jayhawks up 4. Some more back and forth between the two teams, and Iowa State coach Steve Prohm used his timeout for the half with 1:57 with the Cyclones trailing, 37-33.
The final seconds of the half were ugly. Nader appeared to get mugged by Ellis after a nice offensive rebound and lost the ball. A fast break that appeared to be an automatic 2 points for Kansas was eliminated as Burton came out of nowhere for a huge swat.
After stopping the Jayhawks from scoring, Monte Morris carried the ball up while killing the clock. Standing at the top of the key, everyone, including the announcers, was waiting for a simple pick and roll with the Morris-McKay duo, but instead elected to step back and drill a three as time expired. Heading into half, the Cyclones were down 37-36, a great position to be in with Georges Niang sitting the final 9:30 of the half.
McKay led all players with 15 points in the first half and added 7 rebounds to his totals, while Niang put up 12 in just the first 10 minutes. Nader, Morris, and Thomas scored 4, 3, and 2 points, respectively.
Perry Ellis was the star for the Jayhawks, putting up 12 points. Surprisingly, Iowa State had 18 rebounds to the Jayhawks 17. Kansas put up a rare stat, nabbing more offensive rebounds (10) than defensive rebounds (7) in the first half.
Allen Field House shenanigans began early in the second half, as referee Steve Olson went "missing" to start the half to "have his knee checked out," which all Cyclone fans took as "grab your tin foil hats, nut cups, and vaseline, cuz you're about to get screwed."
The Cyclones went to McKay for an alley-oop dunk on its first possession and Thomas made a jumper at the free throw line and a three from the corner the next possession. A few minutes later Niang drove in for two more. But just like the first half, Kansas was hot as well, attacking Niang on defense, and heading into the first media timeout, Kansas was in front 48-46.
Selden came out of the timeout hitting a three but Niang responded with a two after an assist from Nader. But they continued to attack Niang and with 13:08 remaining, the Cyclones were down 57-50.
Iowa State came storming back to make it a one point game after Matt Thomas made two free throws and Niang made a nice move for a layup and kicking it out the next possession to an open Cooke for three. The Cyclones took the lead back when Morris drove and dropped it off to Deonte Burton, who made the shot under the basket while getting fouled and making the free throw to put the Cyclones up 60-58.
Burton drilled a three the next possession but Ellis tipped a Jayhawk shot back in and Graham hit a three the next possession, taking advantage of a 5 on 4 situation with Burton going down cutting his cheek on the other side of the floor, and the Jayhawks recaptured the lead, 64-63, with 7:39 remaining as an injury timeout was called.
Out of the timeout, a Flagrant 1 foul was called on Perry Ellis, as the officials saw an elbow caused Burton to get injured. He came back in to make both free throws and gave the lead back to the Cyclones.
Both teams continued battling back and forth until Landen Lucas had a put back to put Kansas back in front, 72-71. The next possession, all 5 Cyclones scrambled for a loose ball in which Kansas recovered and found Graham wide open under the hoop to give Kansas a 3 point lead, forcing Prohm to call a timeout with 2:16 remaining.
Ugly offense followed up for the Cyclones, and a three by Graham made it a 79-71 game with 43 seconds remaining. After some garbage points for both teams in which Morris was able to put up 7 of his 13 points in the final minute of the game, Kansas was able to run out the clock and escape with an 85-78 victory.
Iowa State scored just one field goal the final 7:25 of the game. This coming after a game against Oklahoma State in which the Cyclones scored just one field goal in the final 10:39 of the game.
Niang scored 22 for the Cyclones, while McKay scored 19 and grabbed 9 boards. Morris had 13, but went 3-10 from the field and had just 4 assists.
Ellis had a strong finish to his final senior day, putting up 22 points and 7 boards. Devonte Graham and Wayne Selden also had great games, putting up 16 points each.
The Cyclones will kick off the Big 12 tournament playing Oklahoma at 8:00 PM Thursday on ESPNU.
Check into Wide Right & Natty Lite to stay updated on all things happening at the Big 12 tournament.