KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Melvin Ejim had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Dustin Hogue added 19 points and 10 boards and No. 16 Iowa State held on through a tense final minute to beat Kansas State 91-85 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament.
Georges Niang added 18 points and Naz Long finished with 14 points for the fourth-seeded Cyclones (24-7), who advanced to play the winner of Kansas-Oklahoma State in Friday’s semifinals.
Iowa State was clinging to an 87-85 lead with just over a minute left when Ejim missed a layup and the Wildcats (20-12) got the rebound. They raced the other direction, but Shane Southwell lost control of the ball going toward the rim and Iowa State came away with it.
Long was fouled and made both free throws with 16.2 seconds left. Marcus Foster missed a 3 at the other end, and Long scored a layup in transition to put an exclamation mark on the win.
Foster scored 21 points to lead the defensive-minded Wildcats, who had been holding opponents to 64.9 points, the best mark in the Big 12. Southwell added 19 points, freshman Nigel Johnson had a career-best 17 and big man Thomas Gipson finished with 13 points.
Iowa State shot poorly in the first half but dominated on the boards, while the Wildcats couldn’t seem to miss yet coughed the ball up nine times.
The upshot of it all was that the teams played nearly to a standstill, just as they did in their two regular-season games. They each won at home in the regular season.
Iowa State had a chance to take a comfortable lead into the break, but Southwell scored a fourth-chance bucket with 14 seconds left in the half. Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg called timeout to set up a play, but DeAndre Kane turned the ball over and Foster hit a 3 before the buzzer.
Instead of leading by double-digits, the Cyclones had to settle for a 44-41 advantage.
They remained one step ahead of the Wildcats until the 12-minute mark, when Thomas made two free throws and Omari Lawrence made another to give Kansas state a 60-59 lead. It was the first time that Kansas State had played from ahead since there was 7:30 left in the first half.
By that point, the game resembled a boxing match.
Every time Kansas State scored, the Cyclones answered the jab. Whenever Iowa State would pull ahead, the Wildcats delivered a blow of their own. And more than once, the officiating crew had to peel bodies off the floor while calming down red-faced coaches on both benches.
The fouls started to pile up, too. Foster picked up his fourth foul with 11 minutes left, and Kane took a seat on the Iowa State bench with four fouls and 9:57 to play.
Hoiberg was the first one to tempt fate by putting Kane back in with about 6 minutes left, but he was called for an offensive foul with 3:55 remaining. Kane clearly took exception to it, staring down the official who called it while the teams huddled during the under-4 timeout.
The Cyclones still led 76-74 at that point, but slowly crept out to a lead down the stretch, and then made due without Kane during a tense final push by Kansas State. Long scored for an 85-80 lead and, after Gipson scored for the Wildcats, Niang’s spinning layup made it 87-82.
Foster hit a 3 to give Kansas State a chance, but the Cyclones held on in the final minute.
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