In the last foreseeable chance to chop down a team ahead of it in the Big 12 standings, Iowa State beat Texas, 85-76, Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum.
The No. 19 Longhorns (20-6, 9-4) entered the game with a two-game advantage on the No. 17 Cyclones in the conference standings. With the win, Iowa State (20-5, 8-5) splits the series with Texas and moves into a tie with Oklahoma for third place in the Big 12, with the chance to slide up if Texas falters Saturday at Kansas.
Melvin Ejim scored 25 to pad his lead in the conference scoring race, many of them on dunks and alley-oops, which helped spark a sold-out crowd.
Unlike the last time they met in Austin, Texas did not dominate the Cyclones inside. UT's Cameron Ridley was held to four points, all on free throws, and grabbed five rebounds. After shooting 2-for-12 from distance in the first half, the Longhorns picked up the pace in the second, Javan Felix hitting three three-point shots and big man Connor Lammert drilling two from the top of the key.
A wild sequence midway through the second half provided the last burst of action before the Cyclones pulled away down the stretch, Lammert hitting a three-pointer, followed by one from ISU's Matt Thomas, followed by a Felix three, which was — yes — followed immediately by an Ejim trey to give the Cyclones a 63-58 lead.
Kane hit one of his two three-pointers with 7 minutes left for a 70-63 lead, then countered a Felix jumper with a layup at the other end. Niang tipped in a missed free throw for a 75-65 advantage with 6 minutes remaining, and the Cyclones didn't slip.