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February 27, 2008
The Jayhawks (25-3, 10-3 Big 12) played with added intensity from the opening tip, jumping ahead by 15 early and leading by as much as 22 midway through the second half. But Kansas had to hold off the pesky Cyclones (14-14, 4-9) down the stretch. The Jayhawks let a 57-35 lead dwindle to 64-55 with 4:04 to go thanks to a 20-7 run by Iowa State.
The hole was too deep for the Cyclones, though. Chalmers hit a 3 that effectively killed Iowa State's momentum, and Arthur added a layup to make it 69-57 with 2:08 left.
The win helped the Jayhawks erase the sting of a 61-60 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday. Their previous road defeat came at No. 5 Texas back on Feb. 11.
"When you're 24-3, you shouldn't be able to say the ship needs righting. But our players all know that it did," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We were a better team tonight than we were the last two to three weeks. Our guys had more energy and they seemed to be more focused and played with more of a purpose."
The Jayhawks also shot better from the outside than they had in recent games. Chalmers and Rush each went 3-of-4 from 3-point range for Kansas, which shot 63.6 percent from beyond the arc.
"When they're shooting the ball like tonight - they took 11 3s and made seven of them - they're going to be tough for anybody to beat because they can score off the block, they can score off of the dribble," Iowa State coach Greg McDermott said.
Iowa State got as close as six early in the second half, but the Jayhawks responded with a 21-5 run to go up 57-35.
The Cyclones ran off seven quick points after the break, cutting Kansas's lead to 36-30. Arthur then hit a long jumper, and Darnell Jackson's layup pushed the Jayhawks back ahead by 10. Sherron Collins and Russell Robinson added free throws, and Sasha Kaun hit a layup that gave Kansas a 46-30 lead.
Rush then hit back-to-back 3s. After Kansas took its biggest lead, the Cyclones answered with a 12-0 spurt highlighted by 3s from Bryan Petersen and Johnson to pull within 10.
But Kansas had done enough to keep Iowa State at a somewhat safe distance.
"I thought for the most part, other than about seven minutes in the second half, we controlled the game," Self said. "I think it's very important to get off to a big start when you're playing on the road in conference."
The Jayhawks hit 11 of their first 18 shots to lead 36-23 at the break. It was a far cry from their loss at Oklahoma State, when they trailed at halftime for just the third time this season.
"We just needed to change things around. We had to play hard, and with energy. We came out flat our last couple of games and we knew we needed to change that," Kaun said.
Kansas jumped ahead 16-8 on Chalmers' 3. Iowa State quickly pulled within three, but the Jayhawks reeled off a 12-0 run. Chalmers buried another 3 to push Kansas's lead to double digits, and a putback and a jumper by Jackson made it a 15-point game with 8:29 left in the first half.
Arthur had 12 on 6-of-10 shooting in the opening half, helping Kansas outscore Iowa State 20-6 in the paint before halftime.
Hubalek and Johnson single-handedly kept the Cyclones within striking distance, scoring 22 of Iowa's State 23 first-half points. But Kansas has now won six straight over Iowa State, and with the loss Cyclones second-year coach Greg McDermott fell to 0-9 against ranked opponents.
The Jayhawks are now back within a game of league-leading Texas in the Big 12 race. But they know they'll have to keep their energy level high on Saturday when they host Kansas State, which handed the Jayhawks their first loss.
"I do think this was big, but I don't think we're back where we were. I don't think you go from playing poorly to playing great consistently. I think it's a process, and it was a great start," Self said.