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Cyclones hand K-State early Big 12 exit

By Joel Jellison

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was gone in a flash.

The Kansas State men’s basketball team tied Iowa State with 3:04 left in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon, but the Wildcats were unable to finish the job, losing 91-85 in a back-and-forth game at the Sprint Center.

With the game tied at 78, Iowa State would go on a 13-7 run the rest of the way, including a 6-3 run to finish the game.

The Wildcats (20-12) cut the lead to two with one minute left on a Marcus Foster 3-pointer that bounced in, but Shane Southwell lost control of the ball in transition with a chance to tie the game and Naz long scored on the final two Iowa State possessions to end the game.

The loss spoiled a couple big performances off the bench for K-State, as Southwell had 19 points and Nigel Johnson and a career-high 17. Foster led the Wildcats with 21 points and Thomas Gipson added 13.

Melvin Ejim finished with a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds for Iowa State (24-7), and Dustin Hogue added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats had a good start to the game, matching Iowa State shot for shot until Johnson scored five straight points to put K-State ahead 17-11 with 13:35 to go in the first half. Iowa State charged right back, though, using six unanswered points to tie the game at 19 inside the final 10 minutes of the opening half.

The Cyclones used an 8-0 run to go ahead 28-23 with 6:05 left, but Will Spradling trimmed the deficit with his only 3-pointer of the game. Iowa State led by five after a trey from DeAndre Kane with 2:41 left, and went ahead by as many as eight points with 1:35 remaining.

After Southwell hit a layup with 13 seconds to go in the first half, Kane turned the ball over to Gipson, and Jevon Thomas found Foster for a 3 with four seconds left to cut the Iowa State lead to 44-41 at halftime. Foster scored 16 points for the Wildcats in the first half, but battled foul trouble for much of the second half.

With the early exit from the Big 12 tournament, K-State now has to wait until Sunday to learn of its postseason fate. ESPN still has the Wildcats as a “lock” for the NCAA tournament, predicted to be an 8 or 9 seed.

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