Just like that, one Will Spradling three-pointer, and Iowa State must win Tuesday to avoid an unfavorable draw in the Big 12 tournament (you again, Kansas?).
Plenty more happened in No. 15 Iowa State's 80-73 loss to KSU on Saturday in Manhattan — Melvin Ejim had a brilliant 30-point, 16-rebound line, but was disappointing in other aspects, DeAndre Kane had another near triple-double, the team stunk from the foul line, the Cyclones got two bench points, plenty of key figures on either side were stuck in foul trouble — but it had pretty much come down to this after a Monte Morris three.
69-all, 1:38 left, and Spradling strokes his only three-pointer of the night for a three-point lead. Georges Niang missed a retort at the other end and then the foul-and-free-throw parade began, a few missed layups and jumpers mixed in for the Cyclones.
Four teams are now stuck in a tie for second place in the conference with 10-6 league records. I've listed the schedules for the four second-place teams below with the kenpom.com rating of their opponents.
The Sooners will probably win out while the Longhorns might get tripped up in Lubbock. The tiebreaker is the record against the league's top team, Kansas, and Texas and KSU have each topped the Jayhawks.
Still a murky picture for another week, but there will be clarity after Tuesday. The Cyclones are 2-7 at Baylor since Big 12 play began but won there last season, 87-82, behind 20 points from Melvin Ejim and 15 from Niang.
Thoughts on the Kansas State game
So, I guess I'll come out and say it, but Melvin EJim has to keep a cooler head. If I had told you before the season a senior Cyclone would be second in the NCAA in technical fouls, you would have all said, "Geez, DeAndre, get a grip!"
Instead, it's Ejim, who has been T'd up four times this year and twice in the last two games. Some of those were silly calls, some weren't. He should still be the Big 12 Player of the Year and he should always keep the fire that drives him, but you can be really good while being smart. I'm not going to moralize on him flicking off BYU's student section or trash-talking opponents (the latter being the reason for tonight's technical) but it's really the attitude toward the referees.
Arguing a foul got Ejim a technical, and his fourth foul, minutes into the second half Wednesday against West Virginia, making the act of arguing totally counterproductive, and he's lucky the team played well while he was on the bench most of the period.
Ejim jumped off the floor Saturday after being whistled and started to heatedly debate the call. Some teammates held him back from what easily could have been his second technical of the night.
Nonetheless, Ejim went to the bench with his fourth foul at 7:55 in the second half, ISU up 62-60. His next recorded stat came at 3:47, an offensive rebound, with ISU down 63-68.
That's been a problem for ISU, getting so mouthy with the refs. There have been cases of players, in the middle of action, turning to an official and griping. Perry Ellis got an easy dunk against Kansas when Dustin Hogue did this in early January. Ejim did it Wednesday. It hasn't been something to talk about because the team's been playing so well, but maybe Fred Hoiberg will feel convicted to address it, if he hasn't already. Like them or not, agree with them or not, the zebras — as maddening as they are — have much of the power. It's just not smart for a player to get after them.
He's all but locked up Big 12 Player of the Year. Ejim would really have to stink not to get the award, in which case it might go to Ames, anyway, and just to Kane.
PG: DeAndre Kane
G: Juwan Staten
F: Andrew Wiggins
F: Melvin Ejim
C: Joel Embiid