No. 5 Kansas, limited without big man Udoka Azubuike again, gets blown out at Iowa State
Steve Prohm's Cyclones got their first signature win and should be ranked in Monday's AP poll
Kansas was always going to be at risk of taking a loss at Iowa State because Steve Prohm's Cyclones are better than their lack of a national ranking shows -- and, of course, because of that so-called Hilton Magic. But things got even trickier for Bill Self's Jayhawks exactly 66 minutes before Saturday's scheduled tipoff.
The tweet came from KU.
Just like that, things went from "Kansas might have a tough time winning this one" to "I'm pretty sure Kansas isn't going to win this one." That's how much Udoka Azubuike means to KU. So, yeah, Iowa State's margin of victory -- the Cyclones won 77-60 -- was a bit surprising. But the fifth-ranked Jayhawks losing a road game to a quality team in a hostile environment without their starting center wasn't really that surprising at all.
KU is just different without Doke.
It was obvious when the Jayhawks struggled at home with New Mexico State, struggled at home with Villanova and lost at Arizona State while the 7-foot-1 Nigerian missed four games with a sprained ankle. And it was obvious again Saturday while the Jayhawks were held to a season-low 60 points in his absence.
"We were awful," Self said.
The good news for Kansas is that Azubuike's wrist injury is neither considered serious nor expected to sideline him long. So the Jayhawks (12-2 overall, 1-1 in the Big 12) will be back at full-strength soon. And, yes, I still believe they're more likely than not to win at least a share of a 15th consecutive Big 12 regular-season championship.
Now to Iowa State.
I imagine a lot of you watched Saturday's performance and asked, "Why is this team unranked?" For that question, there's a simple answer. Here's the answer: Iowa State, right or wrong, didn't receive a single vote in the preseason Associated Press poll. And when a team doesn't receive a single vote in the preseason Associated Press poll, the only way for it to crack the Associated Press poll is usually by beating ranked teams and/or avoiding losses to unranked teams.
Before Saturday, ISU had done neither.
It lost a neutral-court game to unranked Arizona in November, lost by double-digits at No. 25 Iowa in December -- and ISU's best win before Saturday was either a home win over unranked Missouri or a road win at unranked Oklahoma State. The Cyclones entered this weekend 0-2 vs. top-70 KenPom opponents. And, yes, I know they've been severely shorthanded because of injuries and suspensions. But that's an explanation for why they looked better against Kansas than they looked at Iowa. It's not an excuse for a human to rank them before they did something like they did Saturday -- even though ISU entered the Kansas game ranked 16th at KenPom.
Either way, know this: ISU will be ranked now.
I'll have the Cyclones (12-2 overal, 2-0 in the Big 12) ranked in Sunday morning's Top 25 And 1. And, if the Associated Press voters know what they're doing -- which is never entirely clear, but still -- Iowa State will have a number beside its name come Monday and when it plays at Baylor on Tuesday night.
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