Iowa State Beats Oklahoma in Big 12 Tournament
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State’s Will Clyburn waved his hand, as if making the basketball court his palette.
Key color: Green.
What it meant: Take over, which is precisely what Clyburn did.
The 6-7 senior left plenty of brushstrokes on a late-game, bubble-banishing masterwork, scoring 10 straight points during a rousing run that helped the Cyclones stun Oklahoma 73-66 in a Thursday Big 12 Championship quarterfinal at the Sprint Center.
“I was just caught up in the game,” said Clyburn, who scored 10 of his 17 points while turning a 60-53 deficit into a 63-62 lead. “Wanted to win.”
Simple as that — with plenty of Melvin Ejim-led loose ball scrambling and uncommonly stern defending in the waning minutes.
ISU (22-10) held the Sooners (20-11) without a field goal the final 8:10.
Oklahoma led 58-48 at the time and eventually extended it’s advantage to 60-48.
Then the Cyclones, which missed 18 of their first 20 3-point attempts, finally started pushing back.
Georges Niang hit a 3-pointer to make it 60-51 with 7:22 left.
Ejim drained a pair of free throws, as did Clyburn.
It’s how Clyburn’s personal streak began — and part of a larger 25-6 close-out for ISU that came with starting point guard Korie Lucious on the bench for all but the last 20 seconds.
“One of the greatest things about coach Fred (Hoiberg) is he instills confidence in you all the time,” said backup point Bubu Palo, who played most of the final 7:42. “I didn’t know how long I was going to play.”
Turned into a lot, partly because of Lucious’s urging.
“Korie came to me out of a timeout and said, ‘You keep going with these guys, they’ve got a great flow going,’” said Hoiberg, whose team ended a seven one-and-done skid in Kansas City. “That’s Korie Lucious, who hit a shot to help put a Michigan State team in a Final Four. When you have a guy as selfless as that on your team, that’s a great luxury to have.”
Lucious simply saw something working and didn’t want to alter the formula.
“I was like, ‘I’m good,’” said Lucious, who had nine assists but missed all eight of his shots. “‘I’ll just sit here and keep cheering.’”
Ejim scored a career-high 23 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and hitting all seven free throws.
His offensive rebound and dish to Clyburn set up the lead-changing 3-point play with 3:19 left.
“Melvin’s been doing that all year, chasing down loose balls,” said Clyburn, who had two points at halftime. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from him. Just happy he found me.”
The Sooners tied it once after the Ejim-Clyburn connection, but 3-pointers from Tyrus McGee and Chris Babb sealed their fate.
Babb churned his wrist as if spooning food into his mouth after his long-range swish.
“It’s just something we do,” said Babb, who finally celebrated winning a conference tournament game after going 0-3 in two seasons at Penn State and his first at ISU. “Letting everybody know we’ve got it going.”
Up next: Kansas.
There’s a bit of history there.
Heartbreaking history in the form of two overtimes losses fueled by a bank shot and at least two calls/non-calls.
“Games that we shouldn’t have lost, that we had in our favor,” Clyburn said. “I’m just excited to get some payback.”
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