College basketball has become so physical, with such big players, that finding an inch to maneuver can be impossible.
The game was designed for movement, grace, style. It’s turned into a tractor pull.
Which is why I believe Kansas and Iowa State should play one another 18 times a season. Sorry, but the rest of the Big 12 just has to let this happen because most of you guys are into that physical style of play that can be so hard to watch.
But when Kansas and Iowa State hook up, they play basketball.
It happened last month in Ames, when the Cyclones held on for an 86-81 win. And there was a repeat performance Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse, only this time it was KU which came out on top, 89-76.
Scoring is so difficult across much of college basketball. And some so-called experts tout that as a good thing.
Sorry, but I want to see players who can score and run and jump. I enjoy games in which the open floor actually has some openings.
Iowa State and Kansas games are track meets without the field events. In the 10 games the two teams have played against one another since the 2012-13 seasons, they have averaged 83 points.
You want your 56-53 games, go somewhere else. You have lots of choices.
I’ll take a game in the 70s or 80s any day.
“I think both of these teams try to guard, no question,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But neither team tries to utilize the shot clock much. We did a better job of that in the second half, but I think we usually play better when the team we’re playing plays with pace. It’s probably easier to slow a team down than it is to speed them up.”
Iowa State is tough to slow down. The Cyclones’ 80.3 points per game are the 12th most in the country and they shoot 49.1 percent from the field.
Against the Jayhawks on Monday night, though, Iowa State shot only 41.7 percent and just 35.3 in the first half after a fast start.
So there was some defense being played. It just wasn’t all that was being played. There is still room in college basketball for outstanding offense and the Jayhawks showed some Monday, making 10 of 21 three-point shots and shooting 50.8 percent overall.
“You can’t bank on guys shooting the ball like that,” Self said. “But going into the game you would think that if we could match them from the three-point line it would probably be a positive for us. To make three more on the same number of attempts, that was big.”
KU improved to 8-1 in Big 12 play as it charges toward an 11th consecutive league championship, and was spitting and sputtering offensively for a while to start the game as the Cyclones built an early seven-point advantage.
Then 6-foot-7 sophomore Brannen Greene went to work. Greene is the vodka to KU’s fruit punch and he once again spiked the offense, making a couple of three-pointers in a three-minute span. The second gave Kansas its first lead, 21-20, with 6:52 to play.
Greene is a game-buster, but he sometimes gets busted by making silly mistakes.
“He’s interesting to coach,” Self said of Greene, who has averaged 11 points in KU’s past five games to lift his scoring average to just over six points per game. “But I love coaching him because he has no conscience. He doesn’t remember any of his misses at all and that’s an unbelievable trait for a shooter.
“There are a lot of games where he’s bailed us out when we didn’t have any momentum.”
The second half belonged to sophomore Wayne Selden, who spent the first half being invisible. When he made an early turnover in the second half, Self looked down his bench and told Greene to get into the game. Before he could, though, Selden made a three-pointer, his first basket of the game. And after just a few seconds on the bench, he returned and continued to make shots. Selden scored 19 of his 20 points in the second half.
The Jayhawks are building something here. They don’t necessarily have night-in, night-out guys — sophomore point guard Frank Mason and junior center Perry Ellis are the closest — but they have a bunch of players who can get it going.
“I look at our bench,” Self said, “and feel like we have eight starters, guys who can play 25-30 minutes a game.”
In their two meetings this season, Kansas and Iowa State have combined for 20 double-figure scoring performances. Both teams are loaded with offensive talent and have coaches who do not harness.
“They’re fun to compete against,” Self said of the Cyclones.
When do these teams play next?