The Kansas Jayhawks found themselves in an early hole Saturday in Ames and never clawed their way out of it, suffering their second-biggest defeat of the season at the hands of the Iowa State Cyclones 68-53.
KU’s loss to TCU on Jan. 21 was its only more lopsided loss this year, and the only time the Jayhawks scored fewer points in a game this season was in a 64-50 loss to the Tennessee Volunteers on Nov. 25.
Aside from just over a minute early in the first half when Kansas held a 3-2 lead, it was a forgettable and frustrating offensive day for the Jayhawks against the Cyclones. KU committed a season-high 20 turnovers in the loss and shot just 38.6% from the floor. That included an even worse 32% clip in the first half. The turnovers, in particular were problematic, with Iowa State tallying 19 points off the Kansas giveaways.
Jayhawks coach Bill Self also bemoaned his team’s defensive performance after the game.
“I thought our defense was very lackluster and not a lot of energy at all,” Self said. “We did nothing to make them play bad, and they did some things to make us play bad.”
Junior forward Jalen Wilson was KU’s only consistent offense Saturday. He scored 26 points, and went 3-of-8 from three-point range and 9-of-11 from the free throw line. He’s now averaging 26.5 points per game over the last six games, but the Jayhawks are just 2-4 in that stretch (and 1-4 in Big 12 games).
No one else for Kansas broke double figures, with junior guard Joseph Yesufu coming in second on the team in scoring with eight points off the bench. Sophomore forward K.J. Adams and freshman guard Gradey Dick each had seven points for Kansas, while senior guard Kevin McCullar and junior guard Dajuan Harris scored two apiece. McCullar did have a game-high 11 rebounds, too, his fourth straight game with double-digit boards.
Injuries are starting to pile up for the Jayhawks, with sophomore forward Zach Clemence injuring his knee on Saturday, while sophomore guard Bobby Pettiford is still dealing with a hamstring issue. Still, Self said KU’s starting lineup and main contributors have to step up.
“The core players, for the most part, are still in tact, so those core players have to perform and play better,” Self said. “And today we only had one guy who played well at all and that was obviously Jalen.”
The Cyclones shot 45.9% from the field for the game, led by 15 points from senior guard Jaren Holmes, all of which came in the second half.
The Kansas loss means the Jayhawks and Cyclones split their season series, and it also means KU is now a game and a half out of first place in the Big 12 standings. The Texas Longhorns, who lead the league, play the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday afternoon.
There’s a short turnaround facing Kansas, which will return home to Allen Fieldhouse on Monday night to face Texas. That game is set for an 8:00 p.m. tip in Lawrence.
For more reaction to the Kansas Jayhawks’ 68-53 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones, check out Mic’d Up with Jake and Fulton from noon-3:00 p.m., and 580 Sports Talk with Brendan and Dan from 3-6:00 p.m. Monday on 580 WIBW.