Three takeaways from KU basketball’s blowout loss at Iowa State: What went wrong

Charlie Neibergall/AP

Kansas coach Bill Self looked exasperated.

Self sat on his chair at Hilton Coliseum, clasped his hands over his head and stared at the court.

KU guard Kevin McCullar had just committed an offensive foul late in the second half of KU’s 68-53 loss to Iowa State. It was the Jayhawks’ 14th turnover of the night.

Self’s face was bright red with a mixture of emotions — a telling sign of the game Kansas had on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.

Jaren Holmes scored 15 points and Osun Osunniyi added 13 as the No. 13 Cyclones (16-6, 7-3 Big 12) blew out the No. 8 Jayhawks for their first win over KU since the 2019 Big 12 tournament in Kansas City. The Jayhawks had not lost in Hilton since Jan. 5, 2019.

The loss ends KU’s (18-5. 6-4 Big 12) seven-game winning streak against Iowa State, including three-straight at Hilton.

In January, Kansas defeated the Cyclones 62-60 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Jalen Wilson scored 26 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the floor as the Jayhawks fell to fifth in the conference.

KU’s first half was one to forget. As usual, Kansas found itself down early (9-3) with 16:45 left in the first half. After KU kept it within striking distance, Iowa State went on a 7-0 run to close the half with a 33-21 lead.

In the second half, the Jayhawks cut the lead to five points (36-31) by the 16:03 mark and forced an Iowa State timeout. Out of the timeout, the Cyclones went on a 6-0 run to go up 11.

The game wouldn’t get any closer than that.

KU looks to get back on track against Texas on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s game…

Jalen Wilson carried the scoring load ... again

After the K-State game on Tuesday, Wilson talked about how he doesn’t need to score his career-high of 38 points to win every game.

Against Iowa State, that wasn’t quite the case. Wilson was forced to carry the load for KU’s offense from the onset.

In the first half, the forward scored 12 of Kansas’ 21 points on 4-for-11 shooting from the floor. The rest of the team combined for nine points on 4-for-14 (28.6%) shooting. In fact, the Jayhawks’ second-highest scorer was KJ Adams, with four points.

The Cyclones’ high-pressure defense caused 11 first-half turnovers, which led to hesitation from KU in passing the ball.

On several occasions, the shot clock would tick down; as it got close to expiration, Wilson would have to throw up a difficult shot.

Whenever KU’s secondary scorers in Gradey Dick and KJ Adams are cold, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Wilson to score.

Kansas is at its best when the scoring load is relatively balanced.

Turnover galore for Kansas

When these two teams last played in January, KU had 16 turnovers.

It was even worse on Saturday. Kansas finished with 20 turnovers compared to Iowa State’s 10.

The Cyclones had 19 points off turnovers while KU only had eight.

When the game was relatively close late in the first half, Iowa State’s high-pressure defense upped the ante. At one point, KU committed four straight turnovers before scoring a basket.

The turnovers also led to a big advantage in shot attempts for ISU. Iowa State shot 28-for-61 (45.9%) from the floor while KU shot 17-for-44 (38.6%), a difference of 17 field goal attempts.

KU’s struggles to defend the paint

Typically, Adams and the rotation of bigs Self uses (Ernest Udeh Jr. and Zach Clemence) have held their own on the defense.

On Saturday, Iowa State picked apart KU’s interior defense with smart passes and pick-and-rolls that forced Kansas defenders to over-help.

The Cyclones also played with more physicality and toughness. ISU’s bigs scored multiple points in the paint by using their strength to back down KU defenders and score in the post.

Iowa State finished with 36 paint points while KU had 16. Udeh, off the bench, scored only one point with two rebounds in seven minutes. He committed two fouls and had two turnovers.