Let's get right to it, because it's already late and you've seen all the play-by-play on Sportscenter — and I just didn't bother coming up with a clever lede: The No. 16 Cyclones, in their best win of the season, beat No. 19 Oklahoma State, 98-97, in triple-overtime at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Did they have any business of winning? Put another way: After Georges Niang fouled out with a minute left in the second half, would you have liked the Cyclones in an extra 15 minutes?
By that argument, no.
Yet at the same time … The Cyclones looked like the better team the entire night. They had the best player (DeAndre Kane). They had the superior coach. And Iba, if not at full strength, won't phase a club that has home games at Hilton Coliseum and was at Phog Allen Fieldhouse less than a week ago. Iowa State had to be bailed out a few times; so did Oklahoma State.
That's how triple overtime works. The longer it goes, the uglier it gets. The Cyclones were the ugliest team when it mattered at the end, holding for two defensive stops — a gritty display for a team perceived nationally as "finesse."
If Kane was selfish in the final seconds of regulation, he more than made up for it to give the Cyclones life at the end of second OT, tracking down a long offensive miss, taking the ball back to the perimeter, where he contemplated a game-tying three-pointer of his own, before smartly dishing left to just-inserted Naz Long with, oh, two seconds left.
"Naz Long said, 'Right here, right here,' and I've got great trust in my teammate that he'll knock it down," Kane told ESPN's Holly Rowe. "So I hit him and he made a huge three."
On they went to triple-OT.
Forty-seven seconds left, the Cowboys held a 95-93 edge, their most recent score compliments of another Le'Bryan Nash score in the post. Long deflected Markel Brown's jumper, Dustin Hogue corralled the rebound, and the Cyclones were off, Kane at the helm. The senior point guard for whom we're running out of adjectives — ornery, abrasive, bullish, brilliant — could have had his, but he dropped the ball of to Long, who swung the orange to his left, where it found Monté Morris in the corner and was soon on its way through the net.
The old — here we're referring to Kane, 24 years of age – can change. And they can do it on a basketball court. And they can do it in 30 minutes of real time.
The 40 minutes of regulation, and parts of first overtime, felt more like a pissing match against Marcus Smart. With eight seconds left in regulation, and Kane dribbling back and forth, with Smart crouched in his stance, it wasn't hard to guess what came next.
Had Kane released the ball a few tenths of a second earlier instead of waiting for the buzzer-beater, Melvin Ejim's incredible flying put-back dunk would have counted, we all could have gone to bed an hour earlier and Randy Peterson would have made deadline without breaking a sweat.
That's not Kane, though. He's difficult like that. But he's absolutely stupendous. On nights like Monday, when he does it all — 26 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, guarded Smart — while vacillating between one-man-show and playmaker, he's as good as it gets.