The Kansas State Wildcats suffered their second loss in Big 12 play on Tuesday night, coming up short on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones 80-76 in a battle of top-15 teams.
K-State faced an uphill climb for most of the game, with Iowa State leading for over 26 minutes, but the Wildcats never fell too far behind. The Cyclones’ biggest lead was just 10 points with about eight minutes to play. Kansas State responded with a 9-0 run to get the game within just one point, but was never able to flip the lead.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures, led by 23 points on 6-of-17 shooting from senior guard Markquis Nowell. He also led all players with nine assists.
Senior guard Keyontae Johnson racked up a double-double in the losing effort with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Cam Carter also poured in 15 points, while junior forward Ismael Massoud had 13 and made 4-of-5 attempts from three before fouling out.
Both teams had efficient shooting nights, with K-State making 52.1% of its shots and Iowa State going 57.1% from the floor. Points off turnovers was arguably the most important statistic in the game, however, with Iowa State scoring 25 points off 14 Kansas State turnovers. On the flip side, the Wildcats tallied just 13 points on 13 turnovers by the Cyclones.
“We know that’s an issue with our team that we have to get better at,” Kansas State coach Jerome Tang said. “There’s just a lack of practice days, so guys have to study film and just we got to figure out how to break some habits that we have.”
Senior guard Jaren Holmes led Iowa State with 23 points.
Even in defeat, Tang took a positive approach to Tuesday’s game.
“I always say big time players have to make big time plays in big time moments, and I thought that the young men at Iowa State did that,” Tang said. “So, we will get better, but very proud of my guys.”
With the loss, the Wildcats are still in first place in the Big 12 standings but now share that honor. K-State, Iowa State and the Texas Longhorns are now tied at 6-2 in league play, one game ahead of the Kansas Jayhawks, Baylor Bears and TCU Horned Frogs.
Next up for the Wildcats is a meeting with the Florida Gators at home in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. That game is coming up Saturday at 5:00 p.m. The next Big 12 tilt for K-State is the second Sunflower Showdown of the year next Tuesday against KU. Kansas State won the first head-to-head meeting with Kansas earlier this month.