Kansas gets to exorcise in Hilton victory

Jeremy Gustafson

Kansas finally exorcised its demons at Hilton Coliseum and it didn’t take an old priest or a young one.

It was the power of Drew Gooden’s 23 points and 11 rebounds that compelled the No. 2 Jayhawks to their first win in Cyclone country since Feb. 4, 1998.

It was the first victory ever over the Cyclones for Gooden and two Iowans on the Kansas roster.

Nick Collison, from Iowa Falls, and Kirk Hinrich, from Sioux City, are juniors along with Gooden and have suffered under a five-game losing streak to Iowa State. Wednesday, they finally notched a win against their rival.

“Not being able to beat these guys the last couple of years,” said Hinrich, who finished with 12 points and nine assists, “it just feels great to finally edge over on them.”

Hinrich and Collison received a special chorus of boos from the 12,771 in attendance. Both spurned Iowa State for Kansas similar to Raef LaFrentz (of Monona) who chose the Jayhawks in 1994 and is having a successful NBA career with the Denver Nuggets.

“For me personally, it obviously feels real good,” said Collison, who like LaFrentz was a McDonald’s All-American. “It’s really hard to go out and see my family after a loss.”

Collison had about 50 friends and family members in the stands watching him score 16 points and pull down 10 rebounds leading Kansas to a league best 5-0 record, 16-2 overall.

“We feel good for Nick and Kirk more than anything,” said Jayhawk head coach Roy Williams, who is now 2-5 in head-to-head matchups with ISU head coach Larry Eustachy.

Kansas was in severe danger of losing its sixth straight to the Cyclones, down by two, 81-79, with 2:24 left in the game. Then the Jayhawks shut down any hopes of an ISU upset.

Gooden hit two free throws to tie the score, senior Jeff Boschee nailed the last of his four three-pointers, Hinrich dropped two more foul shots and Keith Langford nailed two more for the 88-81 final.

Kansas ended on a 9-0 run and Iowa State failed to score on its final seven possessions.

“I know how they get up for us,” Collison said. “Even the last two years when they’ve been really good, it seems like they’ve almost played down to the competition and really gotten up for the big games.”

Iowa State had its chances but missed free throws and turnovers down the stretch killed any shot the Cyclones had.

“They executed and we didn’t,” ISU forward Tyray Pearson said. “I think we could have done the same thing if we were more mentally tough and didn’t make mistakes down the stretch.”

Iowa State is off to its worst start in conference play since 1993-94 at 1-5 and currently last in the Big 12 Conference. The Cyclones are 9-11 overall.

Jake Sullivan led the Cyclones with 27 points, a career high, including five of seven shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Pearson totaled 17 points and sophomore Shane Power scored 15.

“We can’t get over that hump,” Sullivan said. “We were coming in here expecting to win.”

The Cyclones have been stuck in a rut, unable to win close games this season losing five games by a combined 17 points. The Cyclones dropped road contests at then-No. 11 Boston College 86-81, Baylor 79-74, Colorado 63-61 and Kansas State.

Iowa State has also lost close ones at home, 64-62 to San Jose State and 69-66 to then-No. 6 Oklahoma State.

“We really expected to win this game in the last five minutes,” Eustachy said.

Kansas knows how badly they needed it. It showed when Gooden spiked the ball off the Hilton floor as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The ball sailed high into the air, echoing the feeling Hinrich had after the game.

“It was tough, it was hard fought,” Hinrich said letting out a deep sigh. “It’s just great to get a win here.”

Iowa State will travel to Lincoln where it will face Nebraska Saturday at 8 p.m