If this is the year, if this is the season the rest of the Big 12 finally mule-kicks Kansas off the pedestal, there will need to be several more nights like this Saturday. And "this," at psychotic Hilton Coliseum, was absurd. It was a steamy building filled with noise -- so much noise Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said his ears actually hurt. This was a crowd of 14,384 including a Tin Man, four Teletubbies, the Blues Brothers, and a guy in an inflatable ballerina sumo suit, every last one of them ratcheted up for a 40-minute war howl.
This was an 86-81 win for No. 11 Cyclones, but it took that oppressive environment and a damn-near ideal performance to put the No. 9 Jayhawks down.
The fault lines in Lawrence are there for everyone to see. And it still may require every piece of everything the rest of the Big 12 has to prevent Kansas’ 10 straight regular-season titles, won or shared, from turning into 11.
In the Big 12, anything is possible. That includes the Jayhawks figuring all this out by Monday, when Oklahoma visits. It also includes the chance that they won’t figure it out enough for an 11th straight championship. Every other team sees the vulnerabilities. It remains to be seen if they can take advantage of them.
Managing that Saturday meant Iowa State had to do exactly what it wanted to do, and not a fraction less. Six players in double figures, 50.8 percent shooting overall, nine three-pointers, exposing Kansas on the break, getting a favorable offensive foul call in the final minute with the Jayhawks rallying; remove any of those elements from the equation and the result might have changed. Relative to Kansas, that is tantalizing and unnerving. Unseating the reigning champions can be done, but everything must come together just so.
As much as ever, anything can happen in the Big 12. That may mean Kansas looks up at a league rival in the end, for the first time in a decade. But until that end comes, one way or another, there are nine other teams in the conference looking to catch up.
1/17/15, 9:05 PM
Are there really folks on my timeline who've never hooped in life questioning Bill Self on his sub pattern & decisions? Y'all need help lol!
9 losses in Allen Fieldhouse and 10 Big 12 titles but you know better than him huh haha. There is one in every click lol #foolios