Kansas State could not complete the comeback from a 20-point deficit, as Iowa State held on late for a 70-65 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 14,384 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
Down 46-26 just 44 seconds into the second half after senior Matt Thomas connected on his seventh 3-pointer, the Wildcats (15-5, 4-4 Big 12) slowly chipped away at the deficit. The team used a 20-3 run over a more than an eight-minute span to take a 58-57 edge on a layup by sophomore Barry Brown with 5 minutes to play. Fellow sophomore Kamau Stokes set up the play with a steal of Nick Weiler-Babb just 5 seconds earlier.
The veteran Cyclones(13-6, 5-3 Big 12), who start five seniors, got key buckets from Thomas and All-American point guard Monte Morris on subsequent plays to regain the lead at 61-58 with 4:07 remaining. The Wildcats were able to close to within two points twice down the stretch, including 67-65 on another Brown layup with 24 seconds left, however, key free throws from seniors Naz Mitrou-Long and Deonte Burton sealed the game, 70-65.
Thomas looked to bury K-State early, as he scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the first half on 7-of-9 field goals, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. The Cyclones, who extended their winning streak to six in a row at home over the Wildcats, led by as many as 18 points in the first half on the strength of 59.3 percent shooting (16-of-27), including 60 percent (9-of-15) from 3-point range.
K-State was able get back into the game by tightening its defense on Iowa State in the second half, as the Cyclones shot just 32 percent (8-of-25) after halftime, including 25 percent (2-of-8) from long range. In contrast, the Wildcats, who scored a season-low 26 points on 34.5 percent (10-of-29) shooting in the first half, posted 39 points in the second half on a 45.2 percent clip (14-of-31) with four players scoring 8 or more points.
Senior Wesley Iwundu led five Wildcats in double figures with 15 points on 5-of-9 field goals, while Stokes registered double digits for the 10th consecutive game with 12 points. Reserve Xavier Sneed tallied 11 points, including a pair of key 3-pointers in the second half, while Brown and senior D.J. Johnson each added 10.
Mitrou-Long and Morris joined Thomas in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.