LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Iowa State led sixth-ranked Kansas by three in the waning seconds at Allen Fieldhouse, and Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg decided to play it out rather than commit a foul.
Ben McLemore made him pay for the decision.
Kansas ran the play that forced overtime in the 2008 national title game, and McLemore banked in a 3-pointer from the wing to tie the game with a single second left. The Cyclones went nearly 3 minutes in overtime before scoring, ultimately losing 97-89 on Wednesday night.
“I wish it would have swished,” Hoiberg said of McLemore’s 3-pointer. “Then it wouldn’t have seemed quite so lucky.”
McLemore wound up shooting 10 of 12 from the field, 6 of 6 from beyond the arc and scored a career-best 33 points, none bigger than the three that kept the Jayhawks alive.
“Bank shot or not, it was still an open shot that we should have taken care of,” said Chris Babb, who had 11 points for the Cyclones (10-4, 0-1 Big 12). “We’re supposed to switch and really didn’t get there.”
Melvin Ejim had 19 points and Korie Lucious added 15, though he missed the front end of a one-and-one late in the game that could have helped Iowa State secure the win. Will Clyburn finished with 16 points, Georges Niang had 13 and Tyrus McGee scored 11.
“We know we let one slip away,” Hoiberg said. “But at the same time, if you come in here and compete with a team that’s won eight championships in a row, you can compete with anyone.”
Jeff Withey had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Jayhawks (13-1, 0-1), who haven’t lost a league opener since the 1991-92 season. Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford added 12 points each as Kansas won its 22nd straight conference opener and 30th in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.
“We had the formula to lose that game. We were down with a couple minutes left, they kept getting offensive rebounds and scoring, and Ben just took over,” Withey said. “The last couple minutes, he had the four-point play and then the last play was unbelievable.”
Iowa State came into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring, and its hoist-a-3 offense was at work from the opening minute, when Niang poured in two quick shots from beyond the arc.
Johnson matched him with two 3-pointers of his own, and that began a back-and-forth 20 minutes that featured nine lead changes. The Cyclones never led by more than five, early in the half, while Kansas managed to build a comfortable cushion in the closing minutes.
McLemore’s two 3-pointers a minute apart gave Kansas a 40-32 lead and forced Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg — no stranger to long-distance shooting — to call a timeout with 1:52 remaining.
The Cyclones responded by pulling within 42-38 at the break — certainly a better performance than their last time out, when they trailed Yale 35-27 at halftime.
Kansas managed to extend its lead to 48-40 in the opening minutes of the second half, but that’s when theCyclones’ half-court defense buckled down. The Jayhawks went their next seven possessions without scoring, turning it over three times and failing to get an offensive board.
That allowed the Cyclones to embark on a 12-1 run, which included 3-pointers on consecutive trips by Babb deep on the wing. The second one gave Iowa State a 54-49 lead with 13 minutes left.
The only points Kansas scored for nearly nine minutes came on three free throws.
The drought finally ended when Withey stepped in front of a pass on the wing, tipped the loose ball ahead to Releford, and he dunked to get Kansas back within one.
Hoiberg quickly called a timeout, and that served to quiet the crowd.
Iowa State refused to let the Jayhawks wrestle control of the game, hitting a big shot to answer everything the reigning conference champs had to offer. Lucious had two 3-pointers down the stretch, and another from McGee from well beyond the arc made it 73-67 with 3:59 left.
The Jayhawks closed to 73-71 on a basket by Withey and free throws by Naadir Tharpe, but Ejim scored on a put-back and then answered McLemore’s driving layup with another basket that allowed the Cyclones to cling to a 77-73 with under a minute remaining.
Johnson made the second of two free throws, and Kansas quickly fouled Lucious. He missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Johnson’s driving layup made it 77-76 with 14.5 seconds left.
Lucious was fouled again with 8.4 seconds left, and this time he made both of his attempts to restore a three-point cushion. But with time winding down, Johnson found McLemore coming open on the wing, and the freshman banked in the shot of the night as Allen Fieldhouse erupted.
“I mean, when it left my hand, I actually called, ‘Bank,’” McLemore said with a smile, lest anyone think it was luck. “It was a good release and it went in, so I’m glad.”