AMES, Iowa — Senior point guard DeAndre Kane was supposed to be a one-year stopgap for Iowa State.
Kane has evolved into one of the most versatile players in the country — and the surging Cyclones look like one of the best teams in the nation because of it.
Kane had a season-high 30 points with nine assists, eight rebounds and five steals as No. 9 Iowa State rolled past No. 7 Baylor 87-72 on Tuesday night, setting a school record with its 14th straight win.
“He’s a mismatch nightmare out there, when you have a guy who is 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, strong as an ox and he’s experienced,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said of Kane, who transferred from Marshall in the offseason. “He’s a smart player.”
Melvin Ejim added 18 points for the Cyclones (14-0, 2-0 Big 12), who outscored Baylor 47-34 in the second half and rolled to a surprisingly decisive win over a fellow Big 12 title contender.
Kane had 17 points in the first half, helping his struggling teammates take a two-point lead. The rest of the Cyclones got untracked early in the second half, blowing past the Bears with a 28-12 run to secure their most impressive win of the season.
“I came here to win,” Kane said. “I just wanted to be a part of something special.”
Gary Franklin and Brady Heslip both had 15 points for Baylor (12-2, 0-1), which saw its win streak snapped at six games.
The Bears, like many teams before them, had no answer for Kane’s unique skill set.
He is averaging 16.1 points on 52 percent shooting to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists a game.
“When you see him in person, the size, the strength and the speed. He affects the game in a variety of ways,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Coming in I heard he was good. But I think he has far surpassed what people might have thought.”
Baylor couldn’t have asked for a tougher draw to open Big 12 play. The Cyclones had already beaten ranked teams Michigan and Iowa at home this season and entered play 39-3 in Ames since 2011-12.
The Bears hung around until early in the second half, when Iowa State slowly but surely overwhelmed yet another visitor.
Baylor, which figured to have a serious size advantage with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson, was outscored 47-26 in the paint.
Austin had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Jefferson finished with seven points for Baylor, which had 19 turnovers
“They did a great job of doubling. I thought they were very aggressive. On film, we thought we could exploit it more, and I was wrong. We’ll have to work on that and be a lot more efficient playing out of a double team,” Drew said.
This was the first matchup of top 10 teams in Ames in 13 years.
It could end up having a huge say in the Big 12 title race.
Though Baylor and Iowa State were picked to finish behind Kansas and Oklahoma State, the prospect of the Bears and Cyclones competing for the league title suddenly looks a lot more realistic than it did in November.
The Jayhawks have already lost four times. The Cowboys dropped their Big 12 opener at Kansas State in their first game without center Michael Cobbins, who’s out for the season with an Achilles injury.
Meanwhile, the Bears rolled into league play with just one loss — No. 2 Syracuse in Hawaii — and Iowa State’s start remains the best in school history.
Baylor looked the part early, opening with three straight 3s to put the Cyclones in an early hole. But Kane kept Iowa State afloat with 15 of its first 19 points — and he didn’t stop there.
The Cyclones pushed their lead to 63-51 on layups from Kane and Monte Morris, and Naz Long’s 3 put Iowa State ahead 68-54.
“The guys went out there and executed the game plan perfectly,” Hoiberg said. “Once DeAndre loosened it up for us, then the shots started falling.”