Wesley Iwundu and the rest of the Wildcats secured back-to-back Top 25 wins with a 70-69 victory over No. 12 Iowa State.
Scott Sewell/Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Wesley Iwundu knew how little room for error Kansas State had left itself. Within a blink of an eye, he gave the Wildcats’ once meager postseason hopes new life.
An errant pass from Georges Niang ended up in the hands of Iwundu and a two-handed dunk helped paint a better picture to an up-and-down season at Kansas State (15-15, 8-9 Big 12).
Iwundu capped a 22-9 scoring run with the dunk, giving the Wildcats’ a 70-69 win over No. 12 Iowa State on Saturday and back-to-back Top 25 wins.
"Just a lot of emotions running through my mind," Iwundu said of the play. "I was protecting the route and I saw him cut and I tried to make a play."
Kansas State tied the game at 66 apiece with a tip-in by Justin Edwards with 59.4 seconds left.
After Iwundu gave them a 68-66 lead, Monte Morris had a 3-point play to give the Cyclones a one-point advantage.
However, Iwundu’s attentiveness provided redemption for the sophomore after a missed free throw with a two-handed dunk.
The Wildcats held Iowa State (20-8, 10-6) to 38 percent shooting in the second half, which followed eight-of-15 shooting from 3-point range in the opening 20 minutes.
"They pressure the heck out of you in this building, there is no doubt about that," Hoiberg said. "They’ve won eight league games, they had a really good game and we expected them to come out and pressure us."
Nigel Johnson led Kansas State with 17 points after scoring a career-high 20 points in an upset of No. 8 Kansas on Monday night. Justin Edwards added a season-high 16 points.
Niang led Iowa State with 21 points on eight-of-16 shooting. He added a career-high five 3-pointers for the Cyclones, who came in averaging a Big 12-best 79.4 points.
The Cyclones took a 40-33 lead at halftime, but three-of-12 shooting from behind the arc in the second half derailed their chance for a third-straight Big 12 road victory.
Niang led the Cyclones with 12 points in the first half, including four shots from 3-point range. It was the first time Kansas State allowed 10 or more 3-pointers this season.
The Wildcats overcame two Iowa State double-digit leads in the second half.
The Kansas loss to Kansas State on Monday provided an opportunity for Iowa State to move into serious league championship consideration. But the Cyclones have had two-straight losses.
"We’ve got to bounce back," Hoiberg said. "That’s two tough ones, two very tough ones in a row. We’ll find out a lot about ourselves in how we bounce back tomorrow."