The Drive with Heather Burnside and Sean Roberts

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#23 Iowa State takes down #7 Kansas in 79-75 brawl

Kansas v Iowa State

Photo: David Purdy / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Ames, Iowa – The energy that vibrated through the over 14,000 seats in Hilton Coliseum seeped into the floorboards and translated into an outstanding shooting effort by the #23 Cyclones leading them past the #7 Kansas Jayhawks (16-4, 4-3) 79-75. 

 Iowa State needed a historically hot 14 three-pointers (the most by a Cyclone team since 2019) to take down the rival Jayhawks. Up 74-65 with under three minutes to play, it appeared Iowa State had done all but stormed the court. Then in pure Bill Self fashion, the Jayhawks adjusted and charged back within one possession. Fans on their feet and Hilton as loud as it could be, Keshon Gilbert took the game into his own hands. With 41.3 seconds left Gilbert, who had only shot 1-4 from deep all game long, nailed a top of the key three that would seal the game for the Cyclones.

“In the first half we ran the same play and two [players] came to me and I had to kick it to Milan [Momcilovic, but [Kansas] guarded it a little differently and I had nowhere to go so I hit them with a little move, and I was lucky for it to go in,” Gilbert said. 

Both coaches had a warming embrace at mid-court before the game, but it fooled no one. This one shaped out exactly as all fans and experts predicted with both teams in their respective corners geared more for a heavy-weight fight instead of a Saturday afternoon basketball game. All except blood on the court was on display.

Feels good to be King

Bragging rights and an opportunity to be in a tie for second in the Big 12 on the line brought out the hunger in both squads, but scoring was hard to come by. Iowa State was able to get some breathing room with a 5-0 lead to start thanks to a top-of-the-key three by Tre King. One of his many soon to come.

“We decided to put Hunter [Dickinson] on King and dare him to shoot and he made four,” Self said. “A lot of it was [Iowa State] made shots they have not been making statically and we played the percentages thinking coming up here that would be the smart play.”

When the scoring seemed to slow down the Cyclones turned to the unlikely hero of King. The 6’7 senior forward was given the task of guarding one of the toughest big men in the country in Hunter Dickinson on top of logging longer minutes with Rob Jones sitting in foul trouble. King took over the offense in the first half for the Cyclones pulling Dickinson out towards the permitter where his size can be a disadvantage.

King took advantage of the defense Self had put on the floor. By the end of the first half, he had put together a game-high 11-point performance on 4-8 shooting with two threes’ helping guide the Cyclones out to a 30-26 halftime lead.

“In preparing for this game we knew a lot of guys were going to help off of me because they did not think I could shoot the ball,” King said. “One thing Coach TJ and Coach Crawford talked to me about was if they sag and it is the right shot and right time take it and make it, ‘shoot with confidence’ and credit to these guys [Tamin Lipsey and Gilbert] for continuing to find me.”

King continued his hot shooting night finishing with 21 points (three shy of tying a career-high) on 8-16 shooting and 4-7 from beyond the arc.

Before the Cyclones rushed into the locker room with a four-point lead the final 35 seconds of the half offered some classic Iowa State versus Kansas drama. Lipsey was fouled hard driving in for a layup by Parker Braun and after the review, the officials had upgraded it to a flagrant one. This sent Self into a red-faced rant earning him a technical foul. Iowa State took advantage of the opportunity and made it a four-point swing.

Second half takeover 

Cyclones came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and not just from their big forward. Through the first four minutes, Iowa State converted on four of their first five shots opening with a 40-33 lead going into the first media timeout. A Cyclone team that a week ago everyone was talking about the lack of three-point production put on a clinic similar to those Fred Hoiberg teams of the early 2010s.

“We played for each other, something we have done since June and something we have prided ourselves on is being a very unselfish team,” King said. “Credit to each and every one of these guys for finding each of us in the spots where we were available.”

It was easy to find the open man for the Cyclones when all five players on the court were in rhythm and appeared as if they may not miss for the rest of the game. Just as the unlikely leader in the first half was King, but the second-half crown goes to Curtis Jones off the bench. Jones for the third straight game put together a 10+ point performance.

Jones who struggled early on this season has found his shot and would be a starter on any other team. The sixth man splashed in three shots from beyond en route to scoring 15 points (13 of which were in the second half). Iowa State played out of their minds and out of character shooting 9-15 from three.

When Kansas went on their run late in the second half making 10 of their 12 shots before the under four-minute timeout. It became more apparent the impact Jones has on the Cyclones. Going into the match everyone knew that Kansas’ weakness was their depth, and the depth disappointed the Jayhawks once more. Cyclone’s role players, but mostly Jones, outscored Kansas 18-2.

Kansas State accusations 

Before the 12:30 p.m. tipoff, it was reported that Jerome Tang had accused Iowa State of stealing their plays during Wednesday's game.

Coach TJ Otzelberger was clearly upset with the fact he had to open up the post-game conference having to discuss this incident.

“The ludicrous rumors earlier this week that somehow we were trying to gain an advantage looking into our opponents’ huddles is an affront to our players, our fans, and to me,” Otzelberger said. “It is not who I am, it is not what our program is about and I am angry that someone would even make that suggestion.”

The emotional Iowa State head coach went on to tell the media members the “facts” of what happened.

“What is factual is one of their staff members cursed out one of our student managers who is mopping the floor.”

Otzelberger then finalized his opening remarks by one more time addressing that the rumors said by Tang were false.

“It did not happen, it won't happen and others need to be much more careful with their words moving forward.”  

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