AMES, Iowa (AP) — Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins grabbed every rebound in sight. Joel Embiid was nearly unstoppable in the paint in the second half, and Naadir Tharpe seemingly couldn't miss.
The young Jayhawks are growing up— and they're putting it together in time for another run through the Big 12.
Tharpe scored a career-high 23 points on just nine shots, Wiggins had 17 points and a season-high 19 rebounds and No. 15 Kansas beat No. 8 Iowa State 77-70 on Monday night for its third straight win to open conference play.
"The thing about it is, if you have followed our team closely, you could make the case that this team probably enjoyed playing less than other teams we've had," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But since we started conference play, they're having as much fun as any team we've ever had."
The Jayhawks had plenty of reasons to smile in perhaps their most impressive win of the season.
Embiid had 12 of his 16 points in the second half to go with five blocks for the Jayhawks (12-4, 3-0), who outrebounded Iowa State 53-36.
Kansas opened the second half with a 16-5 run and led the rest of the way, handing the Cyclones (14-2, 2-2) their second consecutive loss after a 14-0 start.
Iowa State doesn't start anyone taller than 6-foot-7, and its lack of size is threatening to become an issue.
"This is a couple of games in a row now where, probably the difference has been on the glass," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We were pretty good in the non-conference portion of the schedule. You don't want this to be a trend moving forward."
It wasn't all good news for Kansas either.
The Jayhawks committed 24 turnovers but they survived by shooting 49 percent from the field and dominating the glass.
"We handled the ball miserably. Looked like a third grade team out there offensively sometimes taking care of the ball. But we made up for it by being pretty good on the glass. It was a great win," Self said.
DeAndre Kane, who sprained an ankle in the loss to Oklahoma on Saturday, had 21 points for Iowa State, which lost to Kansas for the 17th time in 18 games.