MANHATTAN — It can feel darn near impossible to beat Iowa State when the Cyclones heat up from 3-point range.
That’s a reality Kansas State knows all too well following a 78-64 loss to Steve Prohm’s team on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Cyclones didn’t just heat up against the Wildcats, they shot the ball like they were playing the old-school video game NBA Jam ... and they were on fire.
Iowa State ended the longest Big 12 winning streak in K-State history (nine games) by making 14 of 24 3-pointers, including some from jaw-dropping distance.
Talen Horton-Tucker and Lindell Wigginton were the two hottest shooters.
Together, they made one back-breaking 3 after another. Horton-Tucker led the way early and made six 3-pointers on his way to 20 points. And Wigginton found a rhythm in the second half and made five 3-pointers on his way to 23 points.
That was too much for K-State to overcome, especially with star forward Dean Wade playing one of his worst games and exiting the contest early with a noticeable limp.
Barry Brown had a terrific individual effort that included 23 points on 16 shots, but it wasn’t enough with fouls and other factors mounting against the Wildcats.
There is no shame in losing to a scorching-hot opponent. Still, this will go down as a disappointing for K-State (19-6, 9-3 Big 12).
A win over Iowa State (19-6, 8-4) would have given them a commanding lead in the conference standings and made it very difficult for any other contender to catch them, so long as the Wildcats handled their business down the stretch.
Now, the conference race feels wide open.
Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech all have new life.
It was obvious from the beginning that Iowa State was ready to push K-State harder than any other Big 12 team has during the Wildcats’ march to the top of the standings. The Cyclones raced to a 38-28 lead and would have taken a double-digit lead into the locker room if not for a half court shot from Brown at the buzzer.
Horton-Tucker was the main catalyst for the visiting team. The 6-foot-4 guard caught fire in the first half and hit four 3-pointers on his way to 14 points in the half.
His most impressive shot came late in the first half when he realized the shot clock was winding down and drained a step-back 3 from NBA range. He later put a cherry on top of Iowa State’s performance by draining a 3 late in the second half that more or less clinched the game.
Iowa State made 8 of 14 3-pointers in the first half and more or less put its upset hopes on making outside shots against K-State. The strategy worked throughout and Wigginton started draining deep 3s in the second half.
K-State had trouble keeping up, because Brown was its only consistent source of offense.
While he made 7 of 8 shots on his way to 16 first-half points, his teammates combined to go 4 of 17 from the field. Worst of all, Wade only scored two points on one shot.
It was a puzzling first half for K-State’s star senior forward. He saw 19 minutes of action and was defended mostly by the smaller Horton-Tucker, yet he looked passive and deferred to his teammates.
With Kamau Stokes and Xavier Sneed in foul trouble, that made it a difficult first half for the Wildcats.
Wade became more aggressive in the second half, but he couldn’t stay on the court long enough to become a difference-maker. He exited the game with a limp late in the second half and never returned. He was able to stand and participate in team huddles, but he remained at the end of the bench every time the game resumed.
His health status will be a key concern for the Wildcats as they prepare for their next game at West Virginia on Monday.