"Have We Ever Beat Kansas in Hilton?" -- Kansas 82 Iowa State 67

That quote, in the title, was easily the funniest part of my Saturday. I mean, seriously. The answer wasn't even like 1995, either. It was 200-frickin-3. I mean, come on. Do Cyclone fans not remember when the Clones were last a good, even dominant team? Marcus Fizer? Jamaal Tinsley? Timmeh Floyd? All of those stupid farm boys/Eminem-wannabes/foreigners who could hit the three (primarily Jake Sullivan; I was reminded of my intense dislike for him yesterday during the game, when they showed that one clip of him knocking down enough threes to beat us)? Really, no one?

Well, I suppose the Clones' incredible lack of short-term memory will cause them to forget Craig Brackins' performance. Which is a shame, because that was just absolutely incredible. I mean, we certainly didn't play good defense on him. He scored forty-two frickin' points, for goodness sakes. But even when we played good D, and stuck a hand in the his face, and harrassed him, the shots still fell. So, he deserves his props. Congratulations, Craig Brackins. Good luck in the League next year.

Moving beyond Brackins, everything else was damn-near perfect. I mean, we out hustled 'em. We out shot 'em. We out rebounded 'em. We out coached 'em. We were clearly the better team. Of course, that isn't terribly surprising. We are, clearly, a superior team. However, it was in Ames, and even if their fans don't remember, at one point they dominated us up there. It was an impressive win, to win by 15 on the road against a team that had a player go off for 40. If Brackins didn't go all Kevin Durant on all of us, we win going away, by 25 at least. So, yeah, we played really well.

Well, everyone except the Morris twins.

More on the Morris twins and everyone else after the jump...

  • As incredible as Brackins was, Sherron Collins matched him bucket-for-bucket in the first half. I mean, holy hell, I've never seen Sherron so on fire. He was so confident in his shot, he took it every time he got an open look. And every signle time, it found the bottom of the net. He had 14 points in a blink of the eye, and while he ended up with "only" 26 (tying a career-high), he did surpass 1,000 career points. And, more importantly, he was amazingly efficient, and was a great faciltator of the offense. Even when his shot was struggling the second half, he still made the offense tick enough to keep the train chugging along, which was awesome. Most important of all, though, is that he clearly showed that he is the leader of this team. It's never been so painfully obvious, at least since I've started following the team, that one player has been the leader of the squad. Honestly, Danny Manning is the last time I can remember that one player was, without question, the leader of the team. And he is. It's one of those things you can just tell. It doesn't necessarily even make sense, all of the time, but we go as Sherron goes. Not as his shot goes, but how he goes. And, since a pair of cold performances in Kansas City early on and an absolutely dreadful half up in East Lansing, he's been consistently on.

Photo detail

See what I mean? (Nick Krug -- KU Sports)

  • After the obvious MVP choice of Sherron, it gets really difficult. Honestly, just about everybody played really, really well. The Morris twins didn't play well, but everyone else did. But, because I overlook him so often, I'll go Cole Aldrich. He was the power supply to our offense the second half, and his putback dunk with 6ish minutes left to extend the lead to eight (66-60 to 68-60) catapulted the 7-0 run that effectively ended the game. Well, I'll even go beyond the single dunk. With it only a six-point game, and Iowa State having an opportunity to get back into the game, Cole had three straight big plays. The putback dunk, then the incredible D on Brackins (best D of the night, I thought) to force him to come up short. Then, after a non-scoring possession from us and a missed one-and-one from Iowa State later, a gigantic screen to free Tyrel Reed for a three, giving us an eleven point lead. Game. Set. Match. All because of Cole. Oh, and he gave us 16 and 12. Not bad. Not to mention a pair of blocks. Dude is one of the most underrated bigs in the country. Talk all you want about Harangody and Hansborough, but I'll put Cole up against any other white big guy in the country. Honest.
  • Speaking of Tyrel Reed. I can't remember the exact game, I think it might have been the Arizona game, but I distinctly remember a poor outing from Tyrel and me subsequently thinking he was done for the year. Sure, he'd still get some minutes for the next couple of weeks, but when Little came back, and even before then, Tyrel's minutes would slowly dissipate, until they no longer existed. Kind of what happened to Conner Teahan earlier in the year, just in a more gradual fashion. Well, of course, I was wrong. Reed's D has gotten lightyears better in the past month-or-so, and his shot is finally starting to fall consistently. He has a knack for hitting the big shot, like the one described above, which is nice. He is definitely a contributor, someone who deserves minutes in key moments the rest of the way out. The key part of his box score though? Zero turnovers. He is never going to be a big assist guy, isn't nearly good enough at driving to do that, but as long as he doesn't have any stupid turnovers, we're good. Great game from Tyrel, Saturday.
  • What more is there to say about Mario LIttle? He is just an offensive machine, a pure shot-maker who can also drive to the basket. He's 10-10 his last two games, and could have a longer pure shot-making streak (he didn't shoot a shot in Boulder, and went 4-6 against K-State in Allen; depending on where those shots were made and missed, he theoretically could have as long as a fourteen-shot make streak). His fadeaway is money, even when he is only 6'5" and he is fading away from future NBA draft pick, 6'10" Craig Brackins. HIs rebounding will obviously suffer because of his height, but he is solid at boxing out, which gets him a couple a game. As long as he doesn't do anything stupid out there, and can handle it physically, his minutes need to go up, up, up. Who he takes them from shouldn't be a surprise.
  • Quintrell Thomas should also see more minutes, taking some more away from, as this guy (tremendous read, by the way) calls them KieffCus. We'll discuss the Morris twins at great length sometime Monday, so I don't want to discuss them too much, but it was clear on Saturday that only one of the freshmen trio of bigs knows how to really box out, knows how to really rebound the basketball. And that's Quintrell. He is virtually invisible on offense, other than the obligatory moving screen he's called for every game, but he played better D on Brackins than either of the Morris twins. He doesn't deserve a whole bounty of minutes, and he probably isn't a good fit against the small-as-hell Cornhuskers, but he definitely needs to get out of Bill's doghouse. It was good to see him get quality minutes in a tight game, though, and even better to see him do something positive with it.
  • Brady, Brady, Brady. What more can you say about Brady Morningstar? I mean, I'm not really sure what to say. I mean, he is as good as they get on defense. All year long, Lucca Staiger has been sharpshooting the Clones into games. Against us, Lucca went 1-7 with Brady hounding him all over the floor. And that one make was with a minute left, and the game already in hand. If you have a big name, Brady is just itching to shut him down. It's incredible. And, he'll throw in a pretty good offensive game every now and then, just for fun. The play at the end of the first half was incredible, and his nine overall points were impressive. But even more impressive is his non-scoring box score: 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and zero turnovers. Damn. It's like, he's that one kid your coach always screamed at you to be. Oh, and one more thing. He had 33 minutes, third only to (I bet you can guess) Cole Aldrich at 34 and Sherron Collins at 37. Just about every single game, he's third in minutes played? Why? Well, simple enough. He's our third best player. Not our third most athletic, or third most talented, or third most productive on offense. Third best player. He just does everything right, and if he makes any baskets at all on offense, that's just gravy. That's how good he is at everything else.

OK, like I said, I'm going to do some long-ass post about the Morris twins on Monday afternoon, so prepare for that. For right now, we've got a big road test coming up Wednesday night in Lincoln. I'm worried, and you should be to. We can easily win the game, and really should, but it certainly isn't a sure thing. Nebraska is a much-improved team, and they are so well-coached, it's scary. I'm a big Doc Sadler fan, and if he can ever recruit enough talent there at once to really compete, they could win the Big 12. I think the dude's that good of a coach. It will be interesting to see how we match up with them, but I'd imagine they do the same thing to us and Cole that they did to Oklahoma and Blake Griffin; double-and-triple team the hell out of him, and force you to make threes to beat them.

More on this the rest of the week, though, like I promised. The Big 12 Recap is going to have to wait for Monday afternoon as well, I'm afraid. It'll all come, though, I promise. Pinky swear, even.

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