"I told them I was proud of their effort, fighting all night long and giving us a chance," Hoiberg said. "You have to give them credit; they were coming in with confidence and knocked down some big shots with hands in their face."
Diante Garrett led the Cyclones with 23 points and eight assists, while Scott Christopherson used several solid mid-range jumpers to score 22 points. Jamie Vanderbeken and Bubu Palo also scored in double figures with 18 and 10 points, respectively.
"We kept fighting all the way," Christopherson said. "We knocked down shots but we just needed a couple of rebounds in the last few minutes."
An example of Christopherson's comment set up Kansas State's game-winner with just under a minute to go. Will Spradling rebounded a Pullen miss and kicked it back out to Pullen, who promptly buried a three to cut the Cyclone lead to one.
After getting a stop, the Wildcats held for one shot and Pullen nearly had the ball stolen away by Garrett before picking up a fortuitous bounce and scoring. Iowa State had one last chance but a desperation heave by Vanderbeken bounced off the iron.
"I had the ball in my hands," Garrett said. "He just found a way to get through."
Hoiberg said Pullen just was able to make a big play in a tough situation.
"Diante played good defense but got a bad bounce," Hoiberg said. "Pullen is a clutch player but we have to find a way."
After an early 7-0 Wildcat run to take an 18-15 lead halfway through the first half, Kansas State led for the majority of the next 23 minutes but never led by more than six. Trailing 73-69 with seven minutes remaining, the Cyclones made their move with a 10-0 run over the next four minutes.
Vanderbeken started the run with a three and then gave his team the lead at 74-73 with a fadeaway jumper. After Christopherson knocked down two free throws, Vanderbeken stuck another three to give Iowa State a six-point lead, which the biggest lead by either team at any point in the game.
Pullen took over from that point, however, scoring nine of his 21 points in the final three minutes to lead his team to the win.
"(Pullen) is hard to guard," Garrett said. "They run him off a lot of screens."
Iowa State now has its bye week before traveling to second-ranked Kansas next Saturday. The Cyclones dropped an 84-79 decision to the Jayhawks at home on January 12th.
"We just have to make some plays but the ball didn't bounce our way," Hoiberg said.