Iwundu’s dunk gives Kansas State 70-69 win over No. 12 Iowa State
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."
JOHNSON AND JOHNSON
When asked about Nigel Johnson’s combined 18.5 point-average against No. 8 Kansas and No. 12 Iowa State, Bruce Weber attributed it to attention to detail.
"In our shoot-around today, he asked his first question in two years," Weber said. "So he actually paid attention and asked us about how to guard something. He’s made some progress."
Kansas State: Thomas Gipson, one of three seniors recognized in the Wildcats’ final home game, is the 12th player in school history to score at least 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds.
Iowa State: Bryce Dejean-Jones was held scoreless for the first time as a Cyclone. The UNLV transfer came in averaging 12.1 points, but has been held to single digits in three of the last four games.
Iowa State: Hosts Oklahoma on Monday.
Kansas State: Plays at Texas next Saturday.