Iowa State sent a statement to the rest of the Big 12 on Saturday.
Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMES, Ia. — I heard a few people — Kansas fans — suggesting Saturday’s 17-point beatdown by Iowa State wouldn’t have happened if Jayhawks star Udoka Azubuike would have played, and to that I say:
Would Azubuike have guarded the perimeter, both arms raised high in an attempt to stop the Cyclones from nailing 9 of their 13 three-point attempts during the second half of their 77-60 victory?
I doubt it.
As good as he is, would Azubuike have been able to do something about the 24 turnovers that Iowa State’s defense forced Kansas into?
Azubuike lives near the basket; he’s a 70 percent shooter. I’m guessing he wouldn’t have scored easily in the paint against the Cyclones’ post depth of Mike Jacobson, Cam Lard, Solomon Young and George Conditt.
And about that depth…
They’re not only four players that stand 6-8 or taller; they’re four with 20 fouls go give. Because of that, they can play relentlessly, aggressively and with passion.
Iowa State won because its four guards shot well, because Marial Shayok transferred from Virginia, because the freshmen played beyond their age, because the Cyclones finally have bought into playing defense, and because of the most unheralded player on the team.
That’d be Jacobson, who held Dedric Lawson to three points in the first half, and 13 for the game. He came into the game averaging 18.6 points a game. He was supposed to absorb some of Azubuike’s scoring.
Jacobson, the Nebraska transfer from Waukee, kept that from happening.
“Watching Steve’s guys — I feel like I’m watching Georges Niang, Monte Morris and Naz’ little brother out there,” ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla told me before the game. “I just think this team has a tremendous ceiling, given its combination of experience and youth.”
The little brother reference, of course, was to freshman Tyrese Haliburton. The 6-5 rookie is a solid long-range shooter. He’s a wonderful passer. He averages 34.8 minutes, the most on the team. “He’s a 6-5 Monte Morris,” Fraschilla said. “He has so much poise for a young player.
“Conditt and (Zion) Griffin are going to be good players in time, too. This is a very strong Iowa State freshman class.”
You wondered about Prohm’s recruiting at this level? He’s proven those recruiting chops after replacing Fred Hoiberg.
“I honestly thought Steve had an impossible job replacing (Hoiberg),” Fraschilla said during our conversation Friday. “The first two years went great. Last year, anybody that knows the program knew it would be a bumpy year, but Steve has navigated the transition from Fred to himself as well as any coach could do, given Fred’s stature in Ames.”
Everyone’s healthy. No one’s suspended.
“I love their talent level,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
There’s also an NCAA Tournament regional in Des Moines — and if Iowa State can wrangle a top-four seed…
That’s a ways off. There’s still 16 Big 12 regular-season games to play, the next one coming at 6 p.m. Tuesday at (1-1, 8-5) Baylor.
“The thing about this league is there’s always a quick turnaround,” Prohm said. “You wake up, and you have two days prep and then you’re at Baylor on Tuesday.”
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.
► More from Peterson on Saturday night: Iowa State makes statement with win against No. 6 Kansas
Source: Des Moines Register