AMES, Iowa — Whenever Kansas State made a run, Iowa State was there to push back.
The 11th-ranked Wildcats lost their second straight game on Saturday, falling to Iowa State 73-67 at Hilton Coliseum in a game that featured some maddening moments for K-State.
With K-State trailing 61-56 with less than six minutes to play, Angel Rodriguez threw a ball off the legs of Iowa State’s Will Clyburn as he was going out of bounds. But the ball didn’t bounce off of Clyburn out of bounds, instead taking a spin on the floor and staying in play, allowing the Cyclones (14-5, 4-2 Big 12) to race down the court and get a big dunk from Melvin Ejim.
K-State coach Bruce Weber said it was a tough play for the Wildcats (15-4, 4-2), who lost a possession.
“Sometimes bounces go your way, sometimes they don’t,” he said. “But you’ve got to make your own bounces and right now we haven’t done that.”
K-State would cut the score to 65-62 with a 6-2 run, but Iowa State freshman center Georges Niang hit a 3-pointer to push the lead back out to six and give the Cyclones the space they needed to close out the game.
Iowa State’s 3-point shooting was the story of the game for the Cyclones, who made just 3 of 7 in the first half, and finished the game 11 of 22. Despite that, the Wildcats managed to stay close by making 64 percent of their shots in the second half.
With both teams coming off losses earlier in the week, Weber said it was a maturity game to see which would bounce back better. And he thought the Cyclones made more plays that showed they wanted to win.
“They made the plays down the stretch,” he said. “I think they made more determined plays when it counted. When you go 11 for 22 from 3, it’s probably a difference maker, and yet, throughout the whole thing we’re right there.”
K-State cut the score back down to three points with 48 seconds left, but allowed Iowa State point guard Korie Lucious to drive to the basket and score with 28 seconds left.
Rodney McGruder was fouled with 12 seconds left, but as he went to the free-throw line, another maddening situation arose for the Wildcats. Just as McGruder was about to receive the ball, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg alerted the officials that the clock had stopped at some point during the previous few possessions.
After checking the monitors, game officials subtracted 6 seconds from the clock, leaving Weber in shock.
“My question is, he told me the clock’s broke, so does that mean the shot clock’s broke, too? I don’t know, I didn’t see it,” Weber said. “Somebody should have noticed a long time before that because that sure changed things. Can’t do anything with that.”
Hoiberg credited freshman Naz Long, who didn’t see the floor for the Cyclones, as being the player of the game for alerting him to the clock situation.
“I’m standing up there halfcourt, McGruder is going to the free-throw line and (Long) runs up and says the clock didn’t start, so they run (6) seconds off,” he said. “So give this one to Naz, that was huge. It went from 12 seconds to 6 seconds and shortened one possession.”
The Cyclones were led by their do-it-all senior Clyburn, who scored a game-high 24 points and had 10 rebounds.
Weber said Clyburn is a tough player to guard.
“He’s just a good player,” he said. “He’s active, plays point, plays three, plays four, gets you in all different binds, and they just spread you. When they hit 3s they spread your defense, and that allows him to work.”
Shane Southwell, who guarded Clyburn for most of the game, was disappointed with his rebounding performance against Clyburn. Iowa State won the battle of the boards, 35-28.
“I have to get more rebounds,” Southwell said. “I had four rebounds, my man had 10. There’s no excuse for that.”
Iowa State nearly put the game away in the first half with a 10-0 run that had the Cyclones ahead 24-15. But the Wildcats charged back with a 12-2 run that put them ahead 27-26. Iowa State went to the line with no time on the clock in the first half, but Chris Babb missed both, and K-State retained its lead.
The Cyclones opened the second half with a 9-2 run, all on 3-pointers, to pull ahead 35-29, but K-State just wouldn’t’ go away. Martavious Irving gave K-State the lead with 9:04 to play on a mid-range jumper, but Iowa State got the first of two 3s from Niang to retake the lead at 54-53.
Southwell gave the Wildcats their final lead of the game with a 3 at the 7:27 mark of the game, but Iowa State went on an 8-0 run that ended with the ball that just wouldn’t go out of bounds.
The Wildcats finished the game making just 4 of 9 shots from the free-throw line, while Iowa State made 10 of 22. K-State was called for 23 fouls to the Cyclones’ 15. Iowa State had 18 second-chance points, and the Wildcats had just two.
K-State will return home on Wednesday for a game against Texas, looking to break its two-game losing skid against a Longhorns team that has struggled all season.
Southwell said it’s been a frustrating week.
“We’ve just got come back and practice hard,” he said. “We’ll be fine. We’re going to compete at a high level. We’ll be fine.”