America, if you haven't yet already, please take the time to get acquainted with DeAndre Kane. If he and the rest of 9th-ranked Iowa State keep it up, you're going to become even more familiar with him over the next few months.
Kane, a 6-foot-4-inch senior guard, seized the stage of Tuesday night's nationally televised top-10 clash with No. 7 Baylor, bolstering his burgeoning (if previously largely-unheralded) All-America resume by carrying the Cyclones to a 87-72 win with his 30 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, and five steals.
Don't be misled by the lopsided final score: On an evening when seemingly no other Cyclone could find the bottom of the net for the game's opening 10 minutes, carrying is what Kane did. The Marshall transfer had 15 points before any other Cyclone had five, hitting his first six field-goal attempts while his teammates made one-of-nine from the floor and none-of-five from three. It was Kane -- from NBA range -- who finally hit Iowa State's first trey, following it with a steal and breakaway dunk; shortly thereafter came another three and an impressive and-one layup while redirecting his shot and absorbing contact from the Bears' 6-9, 220-pound Cory Jefferson to give the Cyclones their first lead at 19-18.
From there, the rest of the typically balanced Cyclones -- five players, including Kane, have scored 20-plus points in a game this season -- got in on the action, albeit often with Kane's aid. Melvin Ejim hit three threes in less than three minutes, with Monte Morris and Matt Thomas getting in on the act too. The Cyclones led by just two at the half, but it was becoming clear that the tide had turned against a Baylor team that, thanks largely to eight turnovers in the game's first 12 minutes, had failed to capitalize on the hosts' slow start and would be awarded no such second chance. By the time Kane found Ejim for an emphatic two-handed alley-oop that sent Hilton Coliseum into a frenzy and earned a (questionable) technical foul for Ejim's hanging on the rim, Iowa State was up by seven and not looking back.
In Baylor's first true road game -- it played Div. II Chaminade in the Maui Invitational -- the team looked out of sorts on offense, settling for early jumpers rather than exploit an expected advantage inside with Jefferson and 7-1 Isaiah Austin. Making seven of their 14 first-half three-pointers helped keep them afloat through the opening period, but the Bears made just four of 11 in the second half. Austin and Jefferson's 17 total points -- below their 24.7 combined average entering the game -- could not offset that cooling from outside. Now 14-0, the Cyclones are (still) off to the best start in program history, extending their best-ever winning streak, and almost sure to rise in the polls in which they failed to receive a single vote before the season. And the road to the Big 12 title that was expected to go between Lawrence and Stillwater will now have to travel through Ames, too. In six days, Kansas visits. You can bet by then they'll know Kane well.