KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Iowa State and Kansas already have played two memorable games this season, highlighted by buzzer-beating shots, controversial calls and unforgettable performances.
Now, they’ll get a chance to do it again.
Iowa State advanced to the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament with a 73-66 win over Oklahoma on Thursday, and the seventh-ranked Jayhawks joined them a few hours later with a 91-63 whipping of Texas Tech that set up Round 3 in one of the most intriguing series this season.
The Jayhawks won the first two games, but it wasn’t easy — they needed a 3-pointer by Ben McLemore to force overtime at Allen Fieldhouse, and then got 39 points from Elijah Johnson and, many Iowa State fans would argue, help from the officials to win the return game in Ames, Iowa.
In that game, the officials gave a foul to the wrong Kansas player in the closing minutes, and then didn’t blow the whistle on a block-charge call. Later, the league’s office acknowledged that officiating mistakes were made, and the three-man crew was disciplined.
“We’ve had two classic games this year,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “The two games may be the most exciting two games played in our league this year, just about.”
In the other Big 12 tournament semifinal, No. 11 Kansas State will play No. 14 Oklahoma State in a rematch of a game won last Saturday by the Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla.
The Wildcats advanced with a 66-49 rout of Texas, while the Cowboys needed two foul shots by Phil Forte with 2.9 seconds remaining in a 74-72 victory over Baylor.
“We know they’re a good team,” said the Cowboys’ LaBryan Nash. “We know they’re a good team, and it’ll be a good battle. We have to come out stronger than we did tonight.”
Iowa State, which led the country and set a school record with 309 3-pointers, missed 11 of its first 12 and fell behind by 14 points early on against the Sooners on Thursday.
But behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Melvin Ejim, and 17 points from Will Clyburn, the Cyclones (22-10) found their range in the second half. They hit six 3-pointers down the stretch while chalking up their first conference tournament win since 2005.
“My job as a coach is to try to get those guys playing with confidence every time they’re out on the floor,”Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “The one thing that I did like, and that I talked to them about, is how we did attack when the shots weren’t falling.”
Oklahoma (20-10) was led by Romero Osby’s 18 points. Cameron Clark had 17.