MEN’S BASKETBALL: Aldrich leads Kansas to 84-61 victory over Cyclones

Iowa State forward Craig Brackins hung his head in the second half of Saturdays game after Kansas had opened a large lead on the Cyclones.Kansas cruised to a 84-61 win. Photo: Gene Pavelko/Iowa State Daily

Gene Pavelko

Iowa State forward Craig Brackins hung his head in the second half of Saturday’s game after Kansas had opened a large lead on the Cyclones.Kansas cruised to a 84-61 win. Photo: Gene Pavelko/Iowa State Daily

Chris Cuellar —

A packed Hilton Coliseum and national television coverage could not stop the Iowa State Cyclones from dropping their 17th straight game to a ranked opponent, falling to the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, 84-61 on Saturday.

The Jayhawks were guided to victory with a balanced effort from forward Marcus Morris, and First Team All-Big 12 center Cole Aldrich. Morris added 16 points and seven rebounds — six of them offensive in just 19 minutes on the floor. The 6-foot-11 Aldrich dominated the paint with 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, and chalking up 11 boards. 

“[Aldrich] impacted the game in all three facets. He’s always sound defensively, he’s just down there building a big wall—his improvement over the course of the last three years is very impressive,”coach Greg McDermott said. 

The Cyclone Alley student section was clad with special gold-colored game t-shirts, but even with a color change and added intensity in the form of posters and irreverant chants, the action on the floor and 17 total turnovers plagued the Cyclones. 

Marquis Gilstrap paced Iowa State with both points and rebounds, picking up 18 and 12 respectively. His effort included an emphatic second half dunk over Aldrich’s outstretched arms. 

“Marquis just keeps playing. You’ve interviewed him, he doesn’t talk much. He just plays,” McDermott said of the senior. ” I don’t question his ability to get in and mix it up. To start his Big 12 career with four double-doubles — there’s not many players who have done it in the history of this league.”

Iowa State was able to stay within 12 points of the Big 12 leading Jayhawks with 15 minutes remaining, but with an 8-0 run when the Cyclones were down 14 points, Kansas pulled away.

The game was a different affair for Iowa State forward Craig Brackins, who put together a 42 point, 14 rebound game against Kansas at Hilton Coliseum in 2009, but was held to 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting on Saturday. 

They came at [Brackins] very aggressively with the double team. Last year they doubled him on the block. They didn’t double him at 15 feet,” McDermott said. “Today, they were getting it out of his hands. It’s frustrating, but that’s what Craig is going to have to learn to deal with,” 

The loss stretches the Cyclones’ losing streak to nine games against Kansas, and also marks the second conference loss in as many games since guard Lucca Staiger left the team last Tuesday. Scoring 15 points under their 76 point season average, Iowa State’s offense was hampered by a stingy Jayhawk defense, and a low 20-for-53 (37.7%)  effort from the field. 

“We aren’t going to use that as an excuse. We just have to be able to outwill it,” guard Scott Christopherson said after his second career start. “We’re gonna fight forward. We didn’t string enough stops together, and we just didn’t take very good care of the ball in the first half.”  

Only five players scored buckets from the field for the Cyclones, compared to the Jayhawks’ ten, and it showed on the interior, as Kansas outscored Iowa State in the paint 50-24. 

“Growing up watching the Big 12, I always thought it was a physical league, and today was a physical game,” Christopherson added. 

Gilstrap was up to the physical play, logging his fourth consecutive double digit point and rebound game, joining Kevin Durant as the only players to reach that accomplishment in their first four Big 12 events. 

Coach Greg McDermott now also drops to 0-16 in his career at Iowa State against ranked opponents. The team is in desperate need of a signature win and turnaround to keep prospects for any post-season play, and their 62 points per game in their last three Big 12 spots hasn’t been a positive sign. 

We’re going to have to play more consistently than we did today. I think it takes a little luck as well and luck hasn’t really been on our side this week,” McDermott said. 

It’s about winning and losing. That’s what we’re here to do. Obviously my team wasn’t as ready to play today as it needed to be and that responsibility falls on my shoulders.”

Iowa State will go on the road next week, to take on the Oklahoma Sooners. The game in Norman scheduled for a Wednesday, 8 p.m. tipoff.