No. 15 Kansas State, Iowa State set for rubber match
Top-seeded Kansas State and fifth-seeded Iowa State will get a chance for a rubber match in the first semifinal of the Big 12 tournament on Friday. And since neither team will be on their home court, they both have a chance.
The teams split their regular-season matchups, with each team winning on the opponent's court. No. 15 Kansas State (25-7) advanced to the semifinal with a hard-fought 70-61 victory over TCU on Thursday. That followed Iowa State's 83-66 victory over Baylor. The Cyclones (21-11) shot better than 50 percent (13 of 25) from 3-point range.
"You know, when you make shots, life is a lot better," said Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm. "When you get those three guys--Talen (Horton-Tucker), Tyrese (Haliburton) and Marial (Shayok) -- going (12 of 20), we're going to be tough to beat."
It was the fourth time this season that Iowa State has hit better than 50 percent of its shots. One of the previous three was against Kansas State in Manhattan on Feb. 16.
"I watched the film of that game twice while we sat on the plane waiting to take off to West Virginia," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "I wondered if our defense was that bad. No, they were shooting -- and making -- unbelievable shots. They were shooting from the hashmarks, step-back shots. There's not much you can do when they're doing that.
"The thing I was disappointed is that we gave up too many layups, too many easy shots. We have to make them earn their shots."
Iowa State had been struggling coming into this tournament, losing five of its last six. But the Cyclones found their range against Baylor, and now they're ready to face the Wildcats.
"We're glad to be here," Prohm said. "We'll watch this game this afternoon. The assistant who has the scout has both teams prepared. We will go back to my room and, whichever team wins, (we'll) start preparing for them. As you get further in the tournament, you've got to go off your habits."
Kansas State struggled in the first half against TCU. The Wildcats trailed by as many as 12 points on two occasions before trimming the deficit to just two points at halftime.
"We came out lethargic; we didn't have the right energy and mindset to compete for 40 minutes," senior guard Barry Brown Jr. said. "I feel like the first maybe 10-12 minutes of the first half we kind of just coasted. I tried to express to the guys that it wasn't going to be easy."
The Wildcats looked like they were trying to find their rhythm without first-team all-Big 12 forward Dean Wade, who was out with a foot injury. Weber said Wednesday that Wade likely would not play in this week's tournament.
The Wildcats know that they can't get off to a slow start against Iowa State.
"We've just got to do what we do," Brown said of keeping the Cyclones from going crazy from 3-point range. "(We have to) run them off the line, don't allow them to shoot wide-open threes. We have to contain the dribble. All those things play a part in not letting them get to 50 percent."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 15, 2019