MANHATTAN — It was a signature moment begging for a time stamp.
Cartier Diarra was ready and willing to oblige.
With Kansas State protecting a six-point lead over No. 13-ranked Kansas and less than a minute left, Diarra came up with a steal, headed to the other end and delivered a windmill dunk that sent the Bramlage Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.
Game, set and match, Wildcats. Final score: K-State 74, KU 67.
"The energy was great," Kamau Stokes, one of three K-State seniors celebrating a long-awaited victory over KU, said of the dunk. "The noise, I have no words for that.
"We didn't know what Carty was going to do on that break. We knew he was going to do something crazy, but we loved it."
Diarra, a sophomore guard, came off the bench to score all 11 of his points in the second half as the Wildcats took control down the stretch with just the right mix of suffocating defense and timely shot-making.
For Stokes, forward Dean Wade and guard Barry Brown, they finally had their elusive victory over KU, snapping an eight-game K-State losing streak against the Jayhawks in the process.
"It was just a big-time win for us, us seniors, the coaches, the rest of our teammates," said Brown, who led the Wildcats with 18 points, plus five assists. "It was a bucket list game for us (and) our first time winning.
"It was a game that we knew we really wanted to win. It's a great feeling right now."
As a bonus, it also assured the Wildcats, 17-5 overall, of at least a tie for the Big 12 lead depending on how Baylor fares Wednesday at Texas. It was their seventh straight league victory for a 7-2 record.
"Bucket list win. It also helps give us some space here in the Big 12," said Wade, who scored nine of his 12 points in the second half to go with a team-high nine rebounds and five assists. "I know Baylor's still up with us, but to get this win puts a little space between us, and the more space the better in the Big 12.
"Because you never know what's going to happen and I think that's a real big reason why we came out and were motivated and played how we did."
It was seniors Brown and Wade who got K-State off on the right foot in the second half, combining for the Wildcats' first nine points on the period as they erased a three-point deficit. Brown's 3-pointer at the 16:35 mark put his team in front for good, 39-38.
But at crunch time, it was Diarra who drained a corner 3-pointer with 4:15 left that pushed a two-point advantage to 61-56, and paired with a Brown fast-break layup stretched it to seven. Diarra also hit 3 of 4 free throws in the last 25 seconds to kill any KU hopes for a last-minute comeback.
"He was big-time, just his energy and defense and being in the right spots," Brown said of Diarra, who picked up two quick fouls and played just four minutes in the first half. "Then he scored some baskets, hit some big-time threes — the dunk at the end of the game."
Diarra, who now has reached double figures scoring in three straight games, said he is settling into his role as a reserve.
"It's just me coming in and being solid," Diarra said. "I feel like if I get in that 10-plus points (range) it's much needed for the team and stuff like that and it's making the right reads and being real solid on defense, because that's what we preach a lot."
The defense, a constant for K-State all season, came through against KU, which turned the ball over 23 times. It helped the Wildcats overcome a drought that limited them to one field goal in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
K-State coach Bruce Weber's challenge to the Wildcats, as it has been after each victory, was to keep the ball rolling. Especially with a road game at Baylor next on the agenda.
"Obviously I'm happy for the seniors (and) obviously our crowd," he said. "That part's great, but to me the most important thing (is) we're in first place and we're 7-2.
"We've got a first-place game on Saturday night again and a long way to go. I hope it's not finished, and that was my message to the guys after."
Brown agreed that after checking the box next to KU's name, it's time to move on.
"It's going to be good for tonight, and after that it's on to the next game," he said. "We're not going to end the season because we beat KU.
"We're going to hold our heads high right now for tonight and then it's on to the next one, getting ready for Baylor."
For K-State's fans, the windmill dunk at the end will be indelibly etched in their memories. But Diarra said he didn't expect to see it on ESPN when he got home.
"I actually don't have cable," he said with a smile.