K-State falls in semifinals of Big 12 tournament to Iowa State

Sophomore guard Cartier Diarra scans the court for an open play during the Big XII semifinal between K-State and Iowa State in Kansas City's Sprint Center on March 15, 2019. The Cyclones beat the Wildcats 63-59. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It was another fun, competitive and intense game between Iowa State and Kansas State that lived up to the Farmageddon excitement. K-State won the first game of this series in Ames, Iowa State won the second game in Manhattan, and also took home the third game of the series in the Big 12 tournament 63-59.

The Wildcats started hot with a 10-6 lead at the under-16 timeout. Shots were falling. Redshirt sophomore guard Cartier Diarra got eight early points and the Wildcats looked good. It was a dream start for a tired team missing it’s arguably best player that spent a lot of energy defeating TCU on Thursday afternoon.

K-State maintained the lead for the majority of the first half, but as the first half went on the Cyclones slowly cut the deficit as the first half went on. With 7:31 remaining in the first half, Iowa State took the lead for the first time in the game.

The Wildcats were in a shooting slump and head coach Bruce Weber had to call a timeout to get his team to regroup.

It worked, but not for very long. On the possession coming out of the timeout senior guard Barry Brown got to the free-throw line and converted both free throws to retake the lead 23-22, but that was the last time the Wildcats would have the lead in the first half.

K-State was gassed. Junior forward Xavier Sneed badly missed a wide-open three-pointer, and immediately pointed to the K-State bench signaling he needed a sub for a break. They couldn’t buy a bucket. With 1:23 remaining in the half Brown ended a nine-minute scoring drought.

“We got a little stagnant,” Brown said. “It was missed shots. Not being strong in the paint. Not making the extra pass.”

Brown’s bucket saved the Wildcats from a ten-minute scoring drought to end the half. K-State’s poor shooting (30 percent) combined with Iowa State hot shooting as the first half progressed (50 percent) for the half resulted in a 35-25 Cyclone lead at halftime.

The Wildcats needed to regroup and find answers on the offensive end.

They found them. After junior forward Makol Mawien made a bucket down low, K-State made back-to-back three-pointers to cut into the Cyclones’ lead.

Five minutes into the half K-State had the game tied up with a three-pointer from Diarra.

K-State took back the lead 45-43 with 10:43 remaining on a three-pointer from Sneed. The biggest K-State got their lead to in the second half was 55-50 on a jumper made by Brown with 2:47 remaining.

After that, the Cyclones scored nine unanswered to take a 59-55, with two huge three-pointers from Marial Shayok.

K-State wasn’t able to tie the game back up or retake the lead.

Diarra finished with 15 points, but he missed some key, open three-pointers that were in key moments at the end of the game.

“I had two wide-open shots at the end to take the lead back and I didn’t make them,” Diarra said. “I’m really upset about that.”

The Wildcats now wait to find out who they will play in the NCAA tournament on Sunday and will play with win or go home on the line.

“We know it’s win or go home,” Diarra said. “We got to play together at all times. Follow the scouting report, play K-State defense and K-State basketball and give ourselves an opportunity to win. That’s the biggest thing moving forward.”