AMES, Iowa — Iowa State thought it owed Kansas, so Saturday’s 72-64 triumph over the fifth-ranked Jayhawks came as no great revelation to the Cyclones.
Oh, it felt good enough. And any time students get to rush the floor it’s a fun thing.
“We felt like we should have beaten them the first time,” Iowa State forward Royce White said. “So this was basically a must-win for us.”
The Cyclones, improving to 5-3 in the Big 12 and 15-6 overall, played that way, especially down the stretch. Over the game’s final five minutes, Iowa State came away with a score on every possession. Not every shot was made, but those that were missed remained in the Cyclones’ possession and wound up in points.
That, more than anything, won it for Iowa State and frustrated KU. Bill Self put the 50-50 opportunities — rebounds and loose balls — at 70 percent for Iowa State.
“They outmanned us,” Self said. “They were more active and tougher than we were.”
Iowa State outrebounded Kansas 36-23, limiting the Jayhawks to five offensive rebounds. This from a KU team that entered the game among the league leaders in all rebounding categories.
“Our bigs answered the bell today,” Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson said.
When Kansas doesn’t outhustle opponents, “We’re not very good. We get average really fast,” Self said.
How often did the Cyclones jack up a poor shot, only to be bailed out by a hustling rebound?
The task was going to be difficult enough for Kansas. White, the 6-foot-8 point forward who dominated the Jayhawks with 18 points and 17 rebounds in Lawrence, is the toughest matchup problem in the Big 12.
Statistically, White game fell below that effort with 18 points and nine rebounds. But when the game was tight in the second half, the Cyclones ran their offense through him.
And White was at his best, oddly enough, at the free-throw line. His six-for-11 performance came close to matching his 53 percent average entering the game.
But his shots were huge in the second half.
First, as Kansas threw the first punch after halftime, scoring 10 straight points for a 45-39 lead, White stepped up and made two to stop the run.
But the larger moment came with 1:47 remaining. The Iowa State lead was 62-59. Miss a pair here, and the Jayhawks would be in business.
Both went down, and White made sure to remind Thomas Robinson of the success rate.
“He told me I was going to miss them,” White said.
The game’s decibel meter hit a peak with 6:07 remaining and reserve guard Tyrus McGee getting a break when, sweeping across the line, got hacked by Elijah Johnson.
The whistle had bailed out McGee. But he had thrown the ball at the basket and it splashed through. He made the free throw for a three-point play that gave the Cyclones a 56-53 lead. The Jayhawks wouldn’t lead or match Iowa State the rest of the way.
Except for a couple of stretches, the Jayhawks, who dropped to 7-1 in the Big 12 and 17-4 overall, never looked comfortable.
They fell behind by eight in the first half, scored 10 straight but trailed 37-34 at the break.
After the fast opening to start the second half, the offense bogged down.
Robinson, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, seems to be in a slump. He got most of his baskets from Tyshawn Taylor’s collection of 10 assists but labored otherwise. His missed dunk with about four minutes remaining kept Iowa State ahead by three.
“I’m just not playing my game,” Robinson said. “I’m speeding up again, and not taking my time. I just not playing the same way now.”
That’s been the case for a few games, but others had delivered, especially Taylor, who in the first Iowa State meeting broke his personal scoring threshold with 28.
Taylor had 16 on Saturday, and all of the Kansas starters scored in double figures, but that spoke to weak bench play — a total of five points — as much as anything.
“Nobody really played well,” Self said.