KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Marial Shayok hit back-to-back 3-pointers right in front of his own bench to give Iowa State the lead in the final minute, and the fifth-seeded Cyclones held on at the foul line to beat No. 15 Kansas State 63-59 on Friday night in the Big 12 semifinals.
The Cyclones (22-11) trailed 55-52 when Shayok’s first 3-point bounced off the rim, then off the glass and dropped through. Then, after the Wildcats’ Cartier Diarra missed a 3 at the other end, the Cyclones’ senior guard dropped a 3 that gave his team the lead.
Barry Brown’s driving layup got Kansas State (25-8) to 59-57 with 20.3 seconds left, but Nick Weiler-Babb answered with a pair of free throws. Shayok answered by Kansas State’s Xavier Sneed with two of his own, and the Cyclones began to celebrate another trip to the finals.
Shayok finished with 21 points, and Weiler-Babb had 12, as Iowa State advanced to play Kansas or West Virginia on Saturday night. The Cyclones are 4-0 when playing for the title.
Cartier had 15 points to lead five players in double figures for the Wildcats, who shared the regular-season title with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were knocked out in the quarterfinals.
The Wildcats once again played without All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade, who sat on the bench with a walking boot on his right foot. It remains unclear whether he’ll be ready for the NCAA Tournament.
Kansas State got off to a hot start, unlike its quarterfinal win over TCU, but the Cyclones and their massive contingent of fans slowly turned the tide late in the first half.
It began when Sneed missed a layup for the Wildcats and Tyrese Haliburton scored a third-chance basket at the other end for Iowa State. Kansas State went on to miss 12 straight field-goal attempts while the high-flying Cyclones went on a 21-4 charge to end the half.
Momentum promptly switched in the locker room.
The Wildcats, who had the Big 12’s best defense this season, buckled down to start the second half, and they put together an 11-0 run that made it 38-all with 15 minutes to go.
They kept the run going, too, when Diarra was whacked on the way to the basket and needed to get treatment on the sideline after his free throws. Sneed finally knocked down a 3-pointer, Mawien added a bucket in the paint, and Brown’s fast-break layup forced Iowa State to call timeout.
The Cyclones eventually got back on track, wiping out a five-point deficit in the final couple minutes with a couple of big 3-pointers from Shayok and some clutch foul shots down the stretch.
Iowa State won despite committing 17 turnovers and struggling from the field for most of the second half. The Cyclones also won without much help from sharpshooter Talen Horton-Tucker, who had six points on 3-for-10 shooting.
Kansas State could use Wade if it expects to do damage in the NCAA Tournament. He’s the go-to guy when times get tough, and the 6-foot-10 forward probably couldn’t have helped stop the Cyclones’ big run at the end of the first half.
Iowa State will play the West Virginia-Kansas winner for the title.
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