A small ball lineup proves fatal for the Cyclones against the No. 3 Jayhawks

Tyrese Haliburton drives the hoop during the Iowa State basketball game against UMKC on Dec. 4.

Zane Douglas

Iowa State and Kansas were locked in a back-and-forth matchup through the first 14 minutes of Wednesday’s game.

With half of the intermission left, Iowa State collapsed.

“The last eight minutes of the first half was where the game was won and lost,” said coach Steve Prohm.

The Jayhawks started their first of many runs against the Cyclones on Wednesday at the 6:14 mark in the first half and didn’t look back.

Kansas was leading by a score of 25-23 when center Udoka Azubuike put back a Devon Dotson miss to start the Jayhawks’ 12-0 run. The 7-foot Azubuike secured the rebound over 6-foot 1-inch guard Tre Jackson.

Iowa State — a team that is drastically outsized by Kansas — was playing a small ball lineup that included forward Michael Jacobson as the lone post player for the Cyclones.

Jacobson had a solid half offensively, but the redshirt senior had no answer for Kansas’ size down low with Azubuike and 6-foot 10-inch David McCormack.

“You prep for [Azubuike], you prep for Dotson continuing his penetration and man they killed it from three in the first half,” Prohm said.

After a stoppage in play, Prohm brought in forwards George Conditt and Zion Griffin, but it was too late. The Jayhawks continued with the momentum for the remainder of the half.

The Cyclones never went with a four guard lineup for the rest of the game, with Conditt and Griffin playing the majority of the second half.

Kansas turned the first half momentum over to the second half and thoroughly outplayed Iowa State. The Cyclones were dealt their third loss in as many games as they were run out of their own gym.

“It was a ‘Horse’ contest the first ten minutes,” said Kansas coach Bill Self. “Our ball screen defense wasn’t that good. They were able to kinda hurt us on that and they made shots and we made shots and then I really thought the middle 20 minutes of the game I thought we defended pretty well.

Kansas’s defense became a problem for the Cyclones and especially for one player.

While the run in the first half shifted all the momentum towards the Jayhawks, one of the key reasons for the blowout victory for Kansas was its ability to slow down star guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Haliburton has been red hot this season for the Cyclones and has been gaining national attention, but with NBA scouts in the building, the sophomore was stuffed in every way.

“I didn’t think he looked 100 percent healthy to me from his hand,” Self said. “I asked him afterwards, he said he would be fine but he’s a good player, but I think maybe the switching hurt him.”

Haliburton ended up with only five points on 2-7 shooting with five assists, three rebounds and three turnovers.

Haliburton was on the floor during Kansas’ 12-0 run and the ensuing onslaught to end the half. It showed as Haliburton’s plus/minus was the worst on the Cyclones at -28.

Prohm has been tinkering with the small ball lineup for multiple games in a row now, but Kansas saw it coming and ended any hope of that strategy working for him on Wednesday.

“We didn’t get a stop and we couldn’t score,” Haliburton said. “That’s not a recipe for success at all and that really hurt us in that last eight to 12 minute stretch in the first half.”