Iowa State upends KSU; second straight loss for Wildcats
By LUKE MEREDITH
AMES, Iowa -- The worst week of Kansas State's season is over.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they still have plenty of time to prove they'll be a factor in the Big 12.
Will Clyburn had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Iowa State beat No. 11 Kansas State 73-67 on Saturday to hand the Wildcats their second straight loss after a 15-2 start.
Freshman Georges Niang added 15 points for the Cyclones (14-5, 4-2 Big 12), who beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season.
"Now we had a reality smack," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We've got to get back to where we were and do the things that we did well to give us a chance."
Kansas State did just that in the second half, shooting 64 percent and answering basket after basket by Iowa State.
The Wildcats simply ran out of chances.
Rodney McGruder broke free for a dunk to get the Wildcats within 70-67 with 48.5 seconds left, but Korie Lucious answered with a layup to make it a two-score game with 20 seconds to go.
Will Spradlin had 15 points and McGruder scored 13 to lead the Wildcats (15-4, 4-2), who lost on the road for the first time in four games.
"The things that made us good for most of the season is that we guarded and out-toughed and outplayed people," Weber said, adding that Iowa State "made more determined plays when it counted."
Kansas State's eight-game winning streak was stopped Wednesday by No. 3 Kansas, which won 59-55 for its 23rd victory in 25 tries at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats are now on their first losing streak of the season.
Iowa State finally got some breathing room with 5:24 left as Clyburn found Lucious, who stopped under the basket and flipped the ball back to Melvin Ejim for a two-handed stuff that put the Cyclones ahead 63-56. Clyburn then beat three Kansas State defenders for a rebound on the wing, and Niang turned it into a 3-pointer that made it 68-62 with 2:35 left.
Lucious had 10 points and eight assists a day after calling a players-only meeting to rally the Cyclones, who were 11 of 22 from 3-point range.
"We could never really get enough momentum to change the game," Weber said. "When you go 11 from 22 from the 3 it's probably a difference maker. And yet, throughout the whole thing we're right there."
Iowa State had an impressive start to Big 12 play, rattling off wins over Texas, West Virginia and TCU after nearly beating Kansas in Lawrence in the league opener.
But the Cyclones had their momentum stunted by Texas Tech, which on Wednesday handed them their first bad loss, 56-51.
Iowa State responded by being the aggressor early against the Wildcats. The Cyclones went on a 10-0 run capped by a nifty, underhand scoop from Niang to go up 24-15. But Kansas State rallied, moving back in front 27-26 at halftime in large part because Iowa State was just 3 of 10 from the free throw line.
The teams went back and forth for much of the second half, as the Wildcats kept Iowa State from building anything more than a slim advantage until the final minute.
Free throws were a factor as well. The Cyclones were 10 of 22 from the line and Kansas State was 4 of 9.
"I challenged our guys. I said, 'Fellas, we are scoring every time down the floor. We've got to find a way to get stops and string them together,"' Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "The last 4 minutes I thought we did a much better job of finding a way to get stops."
Kansas State entered play ranked seventh in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, while the Cyclones were sixth in the country with 9 made 3s per game.
Iowa State got the better of the Wildcats as far as 3s went and withstood a number of impressive responses by Kansas State.
"We were big on focus," Niang said. "We came back and practice was real tough the last two days. We got after each other."
Shane Southwell had 11 points for Kansas State, which lost despite shooting 50.9 percent from the field.
"We'll be fine. We'll be fine. We're going to compete at a high level," Southwell said.