AMES, Iowa – Iowa State jumped out to a 21-2 lead and withstood several comeback attempts by Kansas State in the second half to post a 73-63 on Saturday night before 14,149 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones (10-13, 3-7 Big 12), who led for nearly 39 minutes in the contest, have now won 3 in a row over the Wildcats (9-14, 2-8 Big 12) and snapped a 2-game losing streak at home in the series.
Down by as many as 21 points in the first half, K-State rallied to within 4 points on two occasions down the stretch, including 52-48 after layup by junior David Sloan that forced an Iowa State timeout with 7:54 to play. However, the Cyclones, playing in front of a near sellout crowd, responded by scoring 7 of the next 10 points, including back-to-back buckets by senior Prentiss Nixon out of the timeout, to push the lead to 59-51 with just under 4 minutes remaining and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
Junior Cartier Diarra, who was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in 4 games, provided a spark for the Wildcats with a game-high 24 points – just one shy of his career-high – on 7-of-15 field goals, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range, to go with 3 assists and a career-best 3 blocks in 37 minutes. It marked Diarra’s fifth 20-point game of his career, which have all come this season.
Diarra was joined in double figures by freshman DaJuan Gordon, who collected his fifth double-digit scoring game of the season and his second in Big 12 play with 10 points. Senior Xavier Sneed, who struggled with a hip injury for most of the game, saw his streak of double-digit scoring game end at 7 after posting just 8 points, but he did lead the Wildcats with 7 rebounds and 3 steals in his 32 minutes of action.
K-State connected 37.9 percent (22-of-58) from the field, including 29 percent (9-of-31) from 3-point range.
The Iowa State offense was balanced with 5 players scoring at least 9 points, as junior Solomon Young led the way with 20 points on 7-of-9 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws. Sophomores Rasir Bolton and Terrence Lewis scored 13 and 12 points, respectively, while sophomore Tyrese Haliburton and senior Prentiss Nixon added 9 points each. The Cyclones connected on 45.3 percent (22-of-58) from the field, including 54.5 percent (12-of-22) in the second half, and were a near perfect 19 of 20 from the free throw line.
The teams capitalized on turnovers, as they combined for 44 points off 33 turnovers on the night. The Wildcats scored 23 points off 17 Cyclone turnovers, which marked the 10th time this season with 20 or more points off turnovers.
HOW IT HAPPENED
K-State was once again hampered by a poor start to the game, as Iowa State jumped out to an 11-2 lead, which included 8 points from junior Solomon Young, that forced head coach Bruce Weber to call his first timeout at the 16:00 mark. The Wildcats’ start included 4 missed field goals and 3 turnovers.
The timeout didn’t do much to halt the Cyclones’ momentum, as they rattled off 8 more points in a row, capped by a 3-pointer by sophomore Tyrese Haliburton, that forced Weber to call a second timeout at the 13:18 mark.
The deficit grew to 21-2 after layup by sophomore George Conditt VI before junior Cartier Diarra gave the Wildcats’ their first field goal – a 3-pointer from the left corner – with 12:04 before halftime.
ISU continued to flex its offensive muscle, scoring 12 of the next 20 points, which included 2 more 3-pointers from Haliburton, that extended the lead to 33-13 at the 7:07 mark.
After 4 free throws by the Cyclones extended the lead to 37-16 with under 6 to play before halftime, the Wildcats finally got some offensive going with a jumper by junior Levi Stockard III that ignited a 12-0 run to end the half. During the run, Diarra accounted for 6 points, including his third triple of the half, while freshman DaJuan Gordon finished off the half with 2 free throws and a layup to close the deficit to 37-28.
ISU connected on 38.7 percent (12-of-31) from the field in the first half, including 20 percent (3-of-15) from 3-point range, while K-State hit on just 31 percent (9-of-29), including 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from long range. The Cyclones were also aided by a perfect half from the free throw line, hitting on 10-of-10 attempts.
Diarra led all scorers with 14 points on 4-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, while Young led ISU with 11 points on 3-of-3 field goals and a 5-of-5 effort from the free throw line.
K-State had its opportunities early in the second half, but it was ISU that grabbed the momentum, scoring 6 of first 9 points to take a 43-31 at the 17:29 mark. Jumpers by senior Makol Mawien and Diarra cut the deficit to 43-35, but the Cyclones responded with 6 in a row to push back ahead at 49-35.
The ever-resilient Wildcats continued to show fight, as a 10-0 spurt, which was started by a 3-pointer by Diarra, that again allowed the team to get within single digits at 49-45 with just over 10 minutes to play. However, the Cyclones ended the run with a 3-pointer from senior Prentiss Nixon to push it back out 52-45 with 9:44 to play.
A Diarra free throw and a jumper by junior David Sloan once again got K-State to within 52-48, which forced Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm to use a timeout at the 7:54 mark. The timeout proved to exactly what the Cyclones needed as they scored 5 row, as Nixon scored on back-to-back jumpers to go with Young free throw — all part of a 7-3 spurt — to push it back to 59-51 and forced Weber to call a timeout with 3:45 remaining.
Twice more the Wildcats closed to within 7 points, including 64-57 on a pair of free throws by Gordon with 1:50 to play, but the Cyclones responded with 5 straight points to push the lead back into double figures at 69-57. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Diarra and junior Mike McGuirl finished off the K-State scoring.
ISU connected on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) of its field goals after halftime, including 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from 3-point range, and hit on 9 of 10 free throws. K-State shot 44.8 percent (13-of-29) in the second half, including 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from long range, and made 5 of 8 free throws.
Diarra led all scorers with 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting in the second half.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Junior Cartier Diarra scored a game-high 24 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range, to go with 3 assists and a career-high 3 blocks in 37 minutes of action.
STAT OF THE GAME
19/20 – Iowa State were near perfect from the free throw line, knocking down 19 of 20 attempts.
K-State returns to action on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play host to Oklahoma State (11-12, 1-9 Big 12) at 8 p.m., CT on ESPNU. It will be the first meeting between the schools this season.