AMES, Iowa — It was the offense that put No. 16 Iowa State in position to beat No. 22 Kansas State. It was the defense that sealed the deal.
Iowa State forward Georges Niang came up with a steal and forward Melvin Ejim blocked a shot in the final two minutes to cap the Cyclones’ 81-75 win over the Wildcats on Saturday.
“When you can shut down the rhythm of another team it’s a huge thing, but to get those stops late is important,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said, “and I felt our guys did a good job of being aware.”
With Iowa State up 76-73, Kansas State guard Marcus Foster drove to the basket. ISU guard DeAndre Kane slapped it away and Niang fell on the loose ball as the Cyclones called timeout.
“Kansas State sort of lulls you to sleep with all their action,” Niang said. “We did a pretty good job out there of taking them out of their offense.”
ISU guard Monte Morris committed a foul on the ensuing inbound pass, giving the Wildcats a second shot to tie the game. Kansas State guard Shane Southwell did fire off a potential game-tying three, but it was blocked by Ejim.
“Those were critical stops,” Hoiberg said. “Had to find a way to get those stops, keep that lead.”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Cyclones. The ISU offense came out of a midseason funk against the Wildcats (14-6, 4-3 Big 12). The Cyclones (15-3, 3-3) shot 25.3 percent from three in their last three games. ISU shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 50.0 from the 3-point line.
Ejim led the Cyclones with 20 points. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Niang had 18 points while guard Matt Thomas scored 14 points.
“It might have been the socks actually,” said Thomas of his 4-for-6 from the 3-point line.
ISU players wore pink socks and both coaching staffs wore sneakers in honor of the Coaches vs. Cancer initiative, which raises breast cancer awareness.
The Wildcats opened up the second half with an 11-1 run. They also held the Cyclones with only one field goal for the first 6:19 of the half. It allowed Kansas-State to tie the game at 50.
“When we move the ball well we are a pretty good team,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber.
The Cyclones responded with a 15-3 run. Kansas State got back into the game thanks to two threes from guard Will Spradling. A thunderous breakaway dunk by Kansas State forward D.J. Johnson tied it at 66 with 5:01 minutes left.
But the Cyclones scored the eight points to reclaim the lead for good.
“They are a team of runs,” Weber said. “We told our guys that. We had the run. We had the opportunities down the stretch and we just didn’t make the plays.”
Foster scored 20 points and was a key catalyst in the Wildcats getting back in the contest.
“I love Foster,” Hoiberg said. “I think he’s a big-time, big-time player.”
Also, Southwell had 14 points and seven rebounds for Kansas Stat while guard Will Spradling added 12 points.
“It’s a team that is very dangerous,” Hoiberg said. “They are ranked for a reason and I think Bruce, with the early struggles they had at the beginning of the season to where he has this team playing now is a big-time credit to him.”
Iowa State used 15 points from Niang to take a 46-34 halftime lead.
Niang was 5-of-8 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range in the first half. ISU’s Thomas scored 12 points in the first half. He was 4 of 4 from beyond the arc.
NOTES: After setting a program record with 14 straight wins to open the season, Iowa State lost three straight games before Saturday’s win. ISU shot 25.3 percent from 3-point range during that span. … Iowa State G DeAndre Kane was named to the Wooden Award midseason watch list. The award is annually given to the top player in college basketball. Kane entered Saturday averaging 16.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists. … Saturday was the first game back for Iowa State G Bubu Palo after a district judge
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