AMES, Iowa – After a disheartening loss to Texas Tech, Iowa State point guard Korie Lucious called a players-only meeting Friday designed to rally the Cyclones.
Iowa State responded to its worst loss with its best win of the season.
Will Clyburn had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Iowa State beat No. 11 Kansas State 73-67 on Saturday, handing the Wildcats their second straight defeat after a 15-2 start.
Freshman Georges Niang added 15 points for the Cyclones (14-5, 4-2 Big 12), who beat a ranked opponent for the first time in 2012-13.
Rodney McGruder broke free for a dunk to get the Wildcats within 70-67 with 48.5 seconds left. But Lucious — who gathered his team for a crucial meeting at their practice facility — answered with a high-arching layup off the glass to make it a two-score game with 20 seconds left.
"Big leadership point for Korie Lucious. He called us out," Niang said. "He just told us if we play the way we know how to play, we're a tough team to beat."
Will Spradlin had 15 points and McGruder scored 13 to lead the Wildcats (15-4, 4-2), who lost on the road for the first time in four tries.
Iowa State finally got some breathing room with 5:24 left as Clyburn found Lucious, who stopped under the basket and flipped it back to Melvin Ejim for a two-handed stuff that put the Cyclones ahead 63-56. Clyburn then beat three Kansas State defenders for a rebound on the wing, and Niang turned it into a 3 that made it 68-62 with 2:35 left.
Lucious had 10 points and eight assists for the Cyclones.
"He's a big-time player, and that's what we expect out of him every game," Clyburn said of Lucious. "It's nothing new to us."
Iowa State had an impressive start to the Big 12, rattling off wins over Texas, West Virginia and TCU after nearly beating Kansas in Lawrence in the league opener.
But the Cyclones saw their momentum stunted by Texas Tech, which on Wednesday gave them their first bad loss, 56-51.
Iowa State responded by being the aggressor early. The Cyclones went on a 10-0 run capped by a nifty underhanded scoop from Niang to go up 24-15. But Kansas State rallied, moving back in front 27-26 at halftime in large part because Iowa State was just 3 of 10 from the free throw line.
The teams went back and forth for much of the second half, as the Wildcats kept Iowa State from building anything more than a slim advantage until the final minute.
Kansas State, which lost to No. 3 Kansas 59-55 earlier this week, is now tied with Iowa State in the Big 12 standings.
"A heck of a ballgame. Basically in the second half, both teams got going, couldn't stop each other. But they made the plays down the stretch," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "Both of us were coming off of disappointing losses. It's a maturity game. It's a determination game. Who was more determined, and I think they made more determined plays when it counted."
Kansas State entered play ranked seventh in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense, while the Cyclones were sixth in the country with 9 made 3s a game.
Iowa State got the better of the Wildcats as far as 3s went, finishing 11 of 22, and withstood a number of impressive responses by Kansas State.
Shane Southwell had 11 points for Kansas State, which lost despite shooting 50.9 percent from the field.
"We could never get enough momentum to really change the game," Weber said. "They cause problems for you. They spread you. They move the basketball well, and when you go 11 of 22 from the 3 it's probably a difference maker."