When it comes to discussing the impact Kansas' victory over Iowa State might have on the Big 12 race, Georges Niang was a man of few words.
"The season's not over, so I'll leave it at that," said the Cyclones' high-scoring junior forward.
Niang's right, of course. But the eighth-ranked Jayhawks (19-3, 8-1 Big 12) did widen their lead over West Virginia in the regular-season race, and knock No. 11 Iowa State (15-5, 6-3) into third place.
And it was an especially disappointing result for a Cyclone team that was going for its first regular-season sweep of the Jayhawks since 2000-2001. The difference in the two games, said Iowa State's Naz Long, was easy to spot.
"We can definitely say turnovers," he said. "Coming out of the gate, we were emphasizing that, and I put that on myself. I caused the first couple of turnovers and we were just doing uncharacteristic things. Just a couple of things here and there and we'll get right back to it because the season is not over."
One reason the Cyclones got Kansas' best shot is the intensity that's come to characterize the rivalry. In fact, the 223rd consecutive sellout in historic Allen Fieldhouse was definitely louder for the Cyclones on Monday night than it was two days earlier when Kansas State came calling.
When the Jayhawks got hot in the second half and raced to an 89-76 victory over the Cyclones that handed them a road loss the month before, the windows seemed to rattle in this 60-year-old arena.
Wayne Selden Jr., who scored 19 of his 20 points in the second half, admitted he'd been "haunted" by the 86-81 loss back on Jan. 17.
The pain persisted "that day, that whole next day. Maybe a little bit after," said Selden. "We had to get onto the next (game). But a sense of urgency came back when we knew we had them next."
Selden, after missing all three of his shots and scoring only one point in the first half, drilled four of his first five 3-pointers after intermission, often finding himself virtually unguarded on the right wing, as the Jayhawks (19-3, 8-1 Big 12) padded their lead in the Big 12 race to 1½ games.
Niang had 24 points.
Making sure to give Kansas State plenty of respect, Kansas coach Bill Self agreed the Cyclones, at least for now, are quicker than just about anyone to get Jayhawk blood boiling. The Cyclones were gunning for their third straight victory over Kansas
"I think it's cyclical. But right now, for sure," said Self. "Right now, the way it sits, K-State would be our biggest rival but you could make a case that Iowa State has emerged as our other rival. Certainly the last couple of years, without question."
Kansas: The Jayhawks are 91-15 all-time at home against Iowa State but the Cyclones are responsible for three of Kansas' nine home losses since the Big 12 opened play in 1996-97. With 12 points, Frank Mason recorded his 19th straight double-digit game.
Iowa State: The Cyclones were held four points below their league-leading scoring average. They now have at least 15 assists in all but five games. Cyclones had a 41-38 rebound edge.
Kansas: In regular-season play, No Bill Self Kansas team has been beaten twice by the same team in the regular season. The Jayhawks had five players in double figures and 22 assists, five more than the Cyclones, who came into the game leading the conference in assists
Iowa State: Iowa State's first-half shooting of 35 percent was its lowest of the season. With nine rebounds, Bryce Dejean-Jones led both teams. But the Cyclones had five players with at least five, as did Kansas.
"'Kansas played a great basketball game. This building explodes when they get those points in transition" said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg.
Kansas is at Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Iowa State hosts Texas Tech on Saturday.
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