AMES, Iowa (AP) — Kansas State showed its surprising start in the Big 12 wasn’t a fluke.
Iowa State proved it could win the kind of games that teams with title aspirations need to win.
Monte Morris hit a floater with 37 seconds left and No. 9 Iowa State held off the Wildcats 77-71 on Tuesday night, moving into a tie for first place in the Big 12.
Jameel McKay tied a career high with 15 points off the bench for the Cyclones (14-3, 4-1), who joined No. 11 Kansas atop the league. Iowa State beat Kansas in Ames 86-81 on Saturday.
This one was just as tough for the Cyclones. But they held K-State scoreless from the 4:04 mark of the second half until a meaningless basket just before the buzzer.
“I was really proud of the way they finished the game,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “But at the same time, I talked about how we’re going to get everybody’s best effort. They’re going to look at us now and see that No. 9 in front of our name and they’re going to come out swinging.”
Kansas State turned it over at mid-court after Morris put the Cyclones ahead 73-69. That miscue allowed Iowa State to seal the game at the line.
Nino Williams had a career-high 22 points for Kansas State (11-8, 4-2), whose winning streak was snapped at four games.
“I thought our offense was good,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “But down the stretch, you’ve got to make the plays that make the difference.”
Kansas State made a surprising early run through the Big 12 by playing great defense. But the Wildcats had yet to see an offense as potent as Iowa State, the Big 12’s leader at 80.3 points per game entering play.
Still, Kansas State pushed the Cyclones for over 39 minutes with some quality offense of their own.
Williams turned a steal into a layup to help K-State jump ahead 54-49, as the Wildcats hit 6 of their first 10 shots to open the second half.
Iowa State finally retook the lead, 71-69, with 2:48 left on a pair of Naz Long free throws following a crucial block by Abdel Nader.
McKay then grabbed a loose ball and wisely called timeout with 1:09 left and the Cyclones still up by two.
Georges Niang had 14 points and Morris and Nader each had 11 for Iowa State.
“Abdel sprinting back on defense and blocking that shot and Jameel diving on the floor and calling that timeout, I just think we have a bunch of winners in our circle that make winning plays,” Niang said.
Kansas State was 15 of 16 from the free throw line, and Marcus Foster scored 16 points. But the Wildcats allowed their most points since Purdue scored 79 on them on Nov. 24.
Iowa State: The Cyclones are 4-1 in the Big 12 for the first time since 1999-2000. They won the Big 12 regular season title that season. Iowa State has also won 17 straight at home.
Kansas State: Williams scored 10 points in the opening 7:08. The Wildcats finished the first half on a 9-3 run to close to within 39-38.
Thomas Gipson had 15 points, including 7 of 7 from the line, for Kansas State. The Wildcats also had 20 assists on 26 baskets, while Iowa State had just 15 on 27 field goals. The game featured 11 lead changes and 10 ties, and neither team led by more than eight points.
“We allowed them to be too comfortable. That urgency wasn’t quite the same as it was in the last four minutes,” Hoiberg said of Kansas State’s strong shooting effort.
Iowa State visits Texas Tech on Saturday.
Kansas State hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.