After a 2-0 start in Big 12 play, Iowa State looked every bit the team to play spoiler to Kansas’ unprecedented title streak. And then... A loss at Baylor which featured questionable officiating down the stretch and lack of execution, and now, whatever this game was.
The up-and-down Kansas State Wildcats, fresh off a 21 point comeback win against West Virginia, pulled off an absolute stunner against the Clones. The 58-57 heartbreaker happened for a variety of reasons, including an abysmal game from Lindell Wigginton, fantastic defense from both sides, but most importantly, a 7 point collapse by the Cyclones that transpired over the course of the final 5 minutes of game time.
The Final 5 Minutes
After a George Conditt dunk and Marial Shayok layup pushed the Iowa State lead to 7 with 5:02 to remain in the 2nd half, Kansas State called timeout to stop what was supposed to be the proverbial nail in their coffin.
Not so fast.
Makol Mawian hands off to Barry Brown for this shot, which he cans. All game it just felt like whenever Iowa State pulled ahead or went on a run, Brown was the guy that stopped the bleeding for K-State and righted the ship.
55-50. 4:45 to go. Iowa State comes down and runs their standard O, running Lindell off a down screen first, then Nick Weiler-Babb, which turned into a pick and roll with George Conditt, the de facto player of the game for the Cyclones. This is one of Iowa State’s most basic and predictable sets, and it stalls. With 9 seconds left on the shot clock, Wigginton calls for a quick PnR with Conditt, but trips and falls, leading to a shot clock violation. All game, KSU tortured Iowa State’s offense by using physical play and limiting their half court chances.
After a missed Barry Brown 3 point attempt and a blocked Shayok layup attempt, the ball is inbounded and eventually ends up in the hands of Wigginton at the top of the key. Conditt sets a screen for Babb, and then Lindell, who hands to Babb for a tough drive to his left. He dishes to Conditt who’s fouled (66% on the year). He misses the front end of the 1-and-1.
Again, Diarra throws to Brown on the wing, who drives past Shayok for this difficult finish.
3 point game, just over 3 minutes to play. Wigginton receives the ball on the wing with 10 seconds left on the shot clock and calls for a Conditt screen. Lindell attacks Conditt’s man and slips it to George for a layup.
This would be the last time Iowa State would score.
Here’s where things get weird:
Brown misses a jumper on the other end and the ball appears to go off the hands of Xavier Sneed. The official closest to the play signals that it will be Iowa State’s ball, and the Cyclones go on to win.
Fine, it didn’t happen like that. Somehow, the officials felt so strongly that the call was wrong, that it gets overturned. Now, keep in mind that this all happens without any sort of review, as the clock has yet to dip under 2 minutes.
Kansas State inbounds down 5 with a little over 2 minutes to play, and Wade isolates Conditt for a layup. For as great as Conditt played, allowing Wade to put his head down and get to the rim was not one of his finer moments.
Steve Prohm proceeds to call timeout, and the ESPN audience is treated with another look at the bogus out of bounds call. Again, I have no idea how on Earth there is enough evidence to overturn the call. Even in slow mo it’s impossible to tell who the ball went off of. *Sigh*
So Iowa State trots the following lineup out: Wigginton, Weiler-Babb, Shayok, Haliburton, and... Jacobson? Color me surprised but up until this point Conditt had been nothing but a bright spot the entire way. His energy and willingness to scrap for rebounds and his ability to contest shots around the rim made him a positive. Now, maybe Prohm was looking to sub based on offense and defense, but I never saw Conditt approach the scorer’s table.
The Cyclones run a weave action out top and attempt to get Shayok free on the wing. Kansas State plays exceptional defense and Weiler-Babb put up this shot with 4 seconds left on the shot clock. The inability of Iowa State to get adequate looks and execute down the stretch has plagued them in both Big 12 losses.
The following defensive possession was without a doubt one of Iowa State’s best all year. They do a great job of fighting through screens and switching when necessary, and Jacobson makes the correct decision to switch onto Brown with under 5 on the shot clock. He misses the fall-away 3 point attempt, and Iowa State still has life.
Remember what I said about the Cyclone offense and their inability to create good looks? Well, here’s the shot that almost certainly would have ended the game.
Weiler-Babb shoots 41.5% from 3 point land. He was 3-6 before that attempt, and has a true shooting percentage of 54.5%. I don’t really have any hot takes or analysis other than saying that Lindell collapsed the defense and threw a dime to a wide open Babb. The shot just didn’t fall.
Wigginton blocks Barry Brown’s layup attempt with 28 seconds left and K-State inbounds. Brown calls for a Wade screen in the hopes of getting a mismatch. It works, and Jacobson is left on an island, as he fouls Brown on the way to the hoop. He makes both, and it’s a 1 point game with 16 seconds left. Make your free throws, and this game is all but over.
Wigginton is fouled and goes to the line to shoot a one and one. Think about Lindell and his reputation as a shooter: He’s known for taking and making extremely difficult shots, and can be a knockdown 3 point shooter, at times. Now, think about how this may translate to his free throw success and predict in your head what he shoots from the line. Did you visualize 80%? 75%? If you did, you’re wrong. He shoots 70% from the line. Do you see where I’m going with this?
K-State attempts to put Brown in a Pick and Roll, but he neglects to use the screen and drives right around Lindell for the go-ahead bucket.
For whatever reason, The Cyclones neglect to call timeout and Wigginton puts up a shot that had about the same likelihood of going in as me going on a date with Kate Upton. The most maddening things about this final possession are the lack of timeout used (I don’t care if Prohm was waving at Lindell to call one, it should’ve been called immediately after Brown’s shot went in), and the fact that Lindell shot with more than 2 seconds remaining. Someone literally got the rebound with time remaining on the clock. The lack of time awareness is absolutely astounding.
So what did we learn? For starters, K-State played solid defense and they deserve credit for making things difficult for the Iowa State offense. Secondly, the inability to adapt and create good looks ultimately doomed the Clones. That, along with a missed free throw, and a missed wide-open 3, ultimately resulted in a nut punch to forget.
Iowa State travels to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech on Wednesday.