When Kansas and Iowa State share the same basketball floor, weird things tend to happen.
A near throwdown on the sideline. A banked-in three-pointer in the final seconds. There are overtime games and controversial calls and two rabid fan bases packing two of college basketball’s most vaunted home courts.
Since Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg returned to Iowa State for the 2010-11 season, the series has ramped up to another level. On Saturday night in Ames, No. 9 Kansas will face No. 11 Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be in town. A Big 12 conference rivalry will be rekindled again. Even in mid-January, the matchup could have major Big 12 title implications. So as we wait for something weird to happen, here’s a look at five memorable moments from the last 15 years of the series.
1. The Melvin Weatherwax Game
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Date: Feb. 25, 2013 (Ames, Iowa)
Final score: No. 6 Kansas 108, Iowa State 96, overtime
Why you remember it: For many reasons, of course. A controversial charge call in the final seconds that benefited Kansas. Elijah Johnson’s 39 points — in a season in which he was struggling. And, of course, Johnson’s run-out dunk in the final seconds, as boos rained down in Hilton Coliseum. As the Jayhawks left the floor in a hostile arena, Kansas coach Bill Self was confronted by an Iowa State booster named Melvin Weatherwax. A few choice words were offered up. Security personnel stepped in. Photos documented the scene. In the days after the incident, Self downplayed the moment. But he did make good use of it on the banquet circuit. Later that year, at the Jayhawks’ season-ending team banquet, Self joked about Johnson’s career night.
“Talk about Elijah’s 39 points,” Self said, “which I think is great, Elijah, but your last two almost got my (butt) whipped after the game was over.”
2. The Joel Embiid Game
Date: Jan. 13, 2014 (Ames, Iowa)
Final score: No. 15 Kansas 77, No. 8 Iowa State 70
Why you remember it: This game announced two things:
1. The Jayhawks, after losing four non-conference games, were still lords of the Big 12.
2. Joel Embiid was going to be a lottery pick. Just one year after Kansas escaped Ames with an overtime victory, the Jayhawks entered a raucous Hilton Coliseum and won again. Embiid, a 7-foot freshman, dominated during the biggest stretch of the game, finishing with 16 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. Andrew Wiggins added 17 points and 19 rebounds. Iowa State forward Georges Niang finished four of 20 and zero of nine from three-point range. Iowa State would finally break its Kansas curse with a victory in the Big 12 tournament later in the year, but the Jayhawks owned Hilton again.
3. The Banked-Three Game
Date: Jan. 9, 2013 (Lawrence)
Final score: No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89, overtime
Why you remember it: Did Ben McLemore call bank? How different would Kansas’ season have gone if this last-second three-pointer would have missed? In the Jayhawks’ Big 12 opener, Self called “Chop” in the final seconds and McLemore, then a freshman shooting guard, banked in a game-tying three-pointer that sent the game into overtime. The Jayhawks pulled out the victory while McLemore finished with 33 points and made six of six from three-point range.
Hoiberg chose not to foul on the final possession of regulation, a decision he perhaps regretted.
“It backfired on us,” Hoiberg said afterward. “That’s the breaks of the game. I wish it would have swished. I would feel better about myself right now if that didn’t bank in.”
4. The Craig Brackins Game
Date: Jan. 24, 2009 (Ames, Iowa)
Final score: Kansas 82, Iowa State 67
Why you remember it: On a January afternoon in 2009, Kansas traveled to Hilton Coliseum and junior guard Sherron Collins was showered with the following chant: “No means no,” an allusion to an earlier lawsuit against the KU guard that had since been dropped.
“I love it,” Collins said. “In places like this, especially when the whole crowd’s keying in on me, giving me a little junk, when you win, there’s nothing much for them to say.”
Collins and Kansas handled their business. Collins finished with 26 points, four rebounds and five assists. But the memorable performance belonged to Iowa State forward Craig Brackins, who dropped 42 points and 14 rebounds on the Jayhawks. Brackins was 11 of 19 from the field and 17 of 21 from the foul line, but the rest of the Iowa State roster was comatose, and Kansas picked up a 15-point victory.
“Oh, he put on a show,” Self said of Brackins. “I wish I could tell you our gameplan was to stop everybody else and make him make all the plays. That wasn’t.”
5. The Kantrail Horton Game
Date: Feb. 5, 2001 (Lawrence)
Final score: No. 14 Iowa State 79, No. 5 Kansas 77
Why you remember it: The Cyclones are still the last team to defeat Kansas in consecutive seasons at Allen Fieldhouse. After handling the Jayhawks in 2000 — and winning the Big 12 that season — the Cyclones returned to Lawrence in 2001 with a backcourt of Jamaal Tinsley and Kantrail Horton. Kansas trailed 46-35 at halftime, but the game tightened during the second half. Then came the moment. With the shot clock ticking down, Horton, a former juco transfer, found himself close to 30 feet from the basket, near the edge of the old Kansas logo at halfcourt. Horton, who would go four of four from three-point range, buried the deep three, and the Cyclones escaped with a two-point victory.