Heading into today’s game in Ames, the Kansas Jayhawks had their winning formula pretty well figured out. Two superlative players, PG Tyshawn Taylor and PF Thomas Robinson, were enough to carry them to a 17-3 record (including a perfect 7-0 in Big 12 play) and a No. 5 national ranking.
This afternoon, however, the Jayhawks needed help from their supporting players and didn’t get it. The result was a painful 72-64 loss at unranked Iowa State.
It’s hard to fault either Taylor or Robinson for this defeat. Robinson’s numbers were a shade under his usual stratospheric levels, but he still posted 13 points and seven rebounds, while Taylor scored 16 points and dished out 10 big assists.
However, foul trouble among the Jayhawk starters (who totaled 18 fouls) put extra pressure on subs Conner Teahan and Kevin Young, and the reserves couldn’t step up when it counted. Teahan and Young combined to shoot 2-for-12 from the field in their 24 minutes of action, including Teahan’s dismal 1-for-6 performance from beyond the arc.
With all five starters in double figures, any help from the bench would likely have been enough to come away with the win. Instead, the Jayhawks’ reserves were outscored 15-5 by Iowa State’s bench, which also outrebounded KU’s backups by a 10-2 margin as part of a 34-19 overall edge on the boards.
The silver lining for Kansas is that this loss isn’t nearly as bad as it looks on paper. Iowa State (which lost at Lawrence two weeks ago) has been improving all season and was able to counter Robinson with one of the few power forwards in the country who can match his athleticism, stud Minnesota transfer Royce White (18 points, nine boards and five assists today).
There’s no doubt that Kansas needs to get its bench back on track before entering the war of attrition that is the NCAA tournament. That said, today’s upset is far from a reason to panic where Jayhawk fans are concerned.