The Kansas versus Iowa State game Wednesday night, January 9, 2013, almost played out as advertised. Iowa State has been leading the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding margin. ISU had “The Mayor”, Fred Hoiberg, on their side. The had a 1 game winning streak against Kansas and are one of seven teams to beat KU in Allen Fieldhouse. History was about to repeat itself as ISU was up by 3 with a little over 1 second to go when redshirt freshman guard Ben McLemore banked a three point shot off the glass. His fifth three-pointer of the night proved to be the most clutch, tying the game and sending Kansas to overtime. Hoiberg and the Cyclone team were defeated before overtime even began.
By all rights Kansas had no business winning that game. ISU was shooting 3-pointers in from seemingly half court and down the stretch, Kansas was losing the rebounding game allowing ISU to get second chance points and going one shot miss and done on offense.
Kansas ended up edging ISU by 7 rebounds and limited them to 41.1 percent shooting. For a team that has scored 70 points in each of their games this season, ISU needed more than 79 points they scored in regulation.
One point that kept Kansas alive and lead to the eventual comeback and win was free throw shooting. Shooting 71.1 from the charity stripe isn’t burning it up, but getting there for 38 attempts and converting 27 shots was good enough. Kansas continued to pound the paint and drive to the bucket even when time was winding down. They stay committed to the inside game instead of panicking and chucking up 3 point prayers. That allowed them to keep it within 6 in the closing minutes and narrow it down to 3 points to allow McLemore to tie the game.
Kansas was up by as much as 11 before ISU put a couple of runs together to take the lead early in the first half while flip-flopping the lead until 1 second left in regulation when McLemore tied the game.
KU has had issues in the past two games as teams are starting to come together and play better when they come to Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks can expect this kind of tenacity from opponents from here until the last game of the season as teams look to notch a win against a top tier team or get a signature win that will go miles to get them into the NCAA tournament. Luckily for Kansas fans, the team appears to have bought into the Bill Self program and accepted their roles. McLemore is now the go to scorer, Johnson is handling the rock better, Tharpe is stepping up his game and Withey continues to block shots and barely has more fouls than games he has played in. Withey even finds himself in on crucial offensive possessions that speaks volumes that Bill Self sees Withey as a valid offensive option.
In overtime, KU went 4-4 shooting and making key free throws to score 18 points and take the win. Some might consider it not deserved, but Kansas showed heart by not letting this win slip by. There’s no quit in this team right now.
Kansas will play at Texas Tech on Saturday, January 12, at 3 P.M. on the Big 12 Television. The Jayhawks conclude their four games in nine days stretch by returning home to host Baylor on ESPN’s Big Monday, January 14 at 8 P.M
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