K-State junior forward D.J. Johnson accounted for over one-third of the Wildcats’ points in their 61-80 loss in Ames, Iowa, to Iowa State Saturday night.
Johnson finished with 22 points, which is a new career high for him, after his 16-point performance Monday night against Texas.
“We lived off of D.J. tonight,” head coach Bruce Weber said in a postgame radio interview. “We needed someone else to step up and make some plays. He’s playing with his heart and playing really good basketball right now. He’s been special lately.”
The Wildcats started off with a 10-5 lead after the first five minutes of play, but Cyclone junior guard Matt Thomas hit a 3-point shot 30 seconds later, which was a theme for him in the game.
Midway through the half and with the Wildcats up 14-13, it was Thomas who again hit a 3-pointer, starting what would be an 8-0 run that gave the Cyclones a 21-14 advantage.
The Wildcats responded with a 3-pointer by freshman guard Barry Brown, though. A layup and two free throws from Johnson tied the game back up at 21 with five minutes to play in the half.
Wildcat senior forward Stephen Hurt made a bucket with 15 seconds left in the half to give K-State a 30-28 lead, but Cyclone junior guard Monte Morris nailed a 3-pointer to end the half and give Iowa State a one-point lead.
“We told our kids to switch everything or even foul, and we didn’t do the little things and instead they make the shot,” Weber said. “We still survived after that, but that hurt.”
K-State had a 39-37 lead four minutes into the second half, but this was the beginning of the end for the Wildcats.
Iowa State went on a 13-0 run to lead 50-39 with over 12 minutes to play.
“That was the difference in the game and they made 3s,” Weber said. “We had some mental breakdowns on the defensive end which led to some bad possessions.”
The Cyclones had their biggest lead of the night at 60-45, but the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to 60-52.
With four minutes to play, the score at 59-65 and momentum building for K-State, the Wildcats had a three-on-one fast break, but a turnover by junior guard Wesley Iwundu started a bad stretch for the Wildcats.
“Wes did something that he hasn’t done all year on the turnover,” Weber said. “We had to make the easy plays and we didn’t.”
After that turnover, the Cyclones scored the next nine points to lead 74-59 and put an end to any hope of the Wildcats pulling off a magic trick in Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s a shame because you can’t shoot yourself in the foot and beat good teams,” Weber said.
Iowa State went on to defeat K-State 80-61 as the Cyclones shot 55 percent and went 10-23 from the 3-point line.
“We don’t always play the smartest and don’t always hit our shots, but we are kind of worn down,” Weber said. “We need more consistency if we are going to make any kind of run.”
Iowa State improves to 20-9 overall and 9-7 in Big 12 play, while the Wildcats are 15-14 overall and 4-12 in conference play.
The Wildcats will host TCU at 7 p.m. Wednesday night for their final game inside Bramlage Coliseum this season.
“TCU is a huge game for us and we’ve got to get it,” Weber said. “We played well down there and we are honoring our seniors, so I hope we have a great crowd.”