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Krypto-Cats? Five takeaways from Kansas State’s upset win over No. 2 Iowa

In its second contest of the season against a Power Five foe, No. 2 Iowa got more than it bargained for against the Kansas State Wildcats.

For the second year in a row, K-State (3-0) handed Iowa (3-1) a stunning early-season, nonconference loss. This time, KSU All-American Ayoka Lee got to take part in the Wildcats’ 65-58 upset win.

Sidelined with a season-ending knee injury last year, the sixth-year senior center was arguably the biggest reason why K-State shocked Iowa again.

Meanwhile, it just wasn’t a typical night for the Hawkeyes offensively. Kansas State frustrated Iowa into a poor shooting night and made the plays late inside a sold out Carver-Hawkeye Arena to walk away with a victory that tied for the highest-ranked win in program history.

Let’s dive into five key takeaways.

Molly Davis nearly won this game for Iowa

Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

In what will be an otherwise frustrating look-back on this loss to the ‘Cats, let’s start with a positive.

Fifth-year guard Molly Davis authored one of her best performances as a Hawkeye. Her fourth-quarter efforts nearly won this game for Iowa. Davis scored seven points in the final frame to help keep the Hawkeyes afloat and to position Iowa to win the game.

The Midland, Mich., native finished with 10 points, was a perfect 3-for-3 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. It’s a nice sign moving forward for this team.

It was an off night for Caitlin Clark

Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

In a rare instance, superstar senior guard Caitlin Clark just didn’t deliver like she normally does. The 6-foot guard finished 9-of-32 shooting, including a frosty 2-of-16 from 3-point range.

Clark had several chances to tie the game after K-State guard Gabby Gregory knocked down a jump shot from just inside the free throw line to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 61-58 with :30 remaining. Uncharacteristically, neither found the bottom of the net. Matter of fact, the second shot from Clark didn’t draw iron altogether.

Credit Kansas State. They got Clark and Iowa off their game, and the Hawkeyes and Clark just really never could find it. That doesn’t happen very often.

Clark did finish with a game-high 24 points, but it was an inefficient, hard-earned 24. In another example of how upside down this night was for Clark, the West Des Moines product finished with just three assists as well. She came in averaging 9.0 assists per game and 8.0 assists per game over the course of her Hawkeye career.

All in all, just an abnormal, off night for Clark.

Iowa needs more from Kate Martin, Gabbie Marshall

Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Graduate guard Kate Martin and fifth-year guard Gabbie Marshall have played a lot of basketball. They’ve been mainstays for the Hawkeyes over the past four seasons, starting a combined 206 games after this K-State contest.

Iowa needs more from these two. The Hawkeyes simply aren’t going to accomplish their goals and beat good teams if this pair combines for only two points on 1-of-7 shooting.

It can’t all fall on Caitlin Clark’s shoulders.

As two of the most experienced players and leaders on this team, Martin and Marshall have to make this team better. They need to go demand the basketball, attack the basket and take and make shots from the perimeter.

An obviously forgettable night from this duo.

Kansas State's Ayoka Lee is tough to deal with

Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ayoka Lee is special. That much was common knowledge to those that have followed this K-State team over the past several seasons, but the Carver crowd got a front row seat to that reality on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-6 center set the NCAA’s all-time scoring record the season before last against Oklahoma when she went off for 61 points on 23-of-30 shooting. The Sooners had absolutely zero answer for her on that night on Jan. 23, 2022.

Iowa did its best to try to limit her damage, but there’s only so many touches a team can eliminate. Lee finished with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

The Hawkeyes won’t see much better on the inside moving forward than the Wildcats’ All-American in Lee. That can at least be some form of encouraging news.

Iowa gets an early wake-up call

Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Joseph Cress/For the Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

Not that coach Lisa Bluder or her team were under any illusions that they were unbeatable, but this result leaves no doubt. The Hawkeyes need to improve.

Iowa doesn’t need to totally reinvent itself, but it’s an early-season wake-up call that this team can’t count entirely on Clark. She’s typically other-worldly and will return to that regularly scheduled program immediately, but this team needs other contributors to step up.

K-State was a tough lesson in that regard. It’s also a reminder that the Hawkeyes will get beat if they don’t match opponents’ energy. There’s a target on Iowa’s back after its trip to the national championship game.

The whole night felt like the Hawkeyes were waiting on a scoring run from Clark that never came. Going forward, Iowa needs to recapture the mindset of being the aggressor.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire