Kansas' two victories over Iowa State this season were memorable. KU won at home 97-89, but only by banking in a 3-point shot to send the game into overtime. KU won at ISU 108-96, also in overtime, overcoming a late deficit in regulation with the help of officiating errors which the Big 12 acknowledged.
“Pretty tough losses for us,” said ISU's Melvin Ejim. “They're a good team. We're a good team. We felt we played them well. So we're excited to play them and get another crack at them.”
Said teammate Will Clyburn, “I want some payback.”
The Jayhawks are well aware of the uproar from a few weeks ago. “There is a lot of controversy and stuff like that,” said KU center Jeff Withey. “It will be a fun game. That's what I like.”
SWEEP OF LONGHORNS
Kansas State completed a three-game sweep of Texas this season with a 66-49 victory.
The Wildcats also beat the Longhorns in football.
KSU star Rodney McGruder was asked how much pride he took in “little K-State” toppling Texas in both major sports.
“It all starts with our fans,” McGruder said. “How much they support us, and they push us to go hard. And we know what we're doing is not only for ourselves but also the Manhattan community. So it feels good to do big things for our community.”
Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who spent the last two decades as an athletic director, first at Iowa and then Stanford, is overseeing his first Big 12 Tournament.
“It's been terrific,” Bowlsby said. “It's fun to experience.”
And the crowds have been impressive, as is always the case in Kansas City. The Wednesday night doubleheader, featuring also-ran games — Texas-TCU and West Virginia-Texas Tech — half-filled the 18,972-seat Sprint Center, a solid showing considering there was no team of local interest or intrigue playing. And the Sprint Center was rocking by 11:30 a.m. Thursday, when Iowa State and OU tipped off.
HAPPY FOR CYCLONE FANS
Iowa State had lost eight straight Big 12 Tournament games. The Cyclones hadn't won since a 77-57 first-round victory over Baylor in 2005. And now the Cyclones are in the Big 12 semifinals for the first time since 2000.
But Iowa State fans haven't lost their appetite for the tournament. Cyclone supporters, perhaps 4,000 strong, outnumbered OU fans 10-to-1.
“To get this win for them is really special,” said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg. “And going all the way back to my Big Eight days at Kemper Arena and playing in front of the fans, I know how special it is for them. Couldn't be happier for our fans.”
The Sprint Center exploded with cheers late in the KSU-Texas game — but it wasn't because of a play made on the court. Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder was shown on the Kiss Cam.
Snyder didn't take the bait the first time, despite encouragement from Wildcat fans. He just waved. The Kiss Cam moved on, but after a KU couple kissed and a Texas couple did the same, the camera came back to Snyder and his wife. This time, Snyder's wife pointed with her finger to her left cheek. Snyder leaned over and kissed her, and KSU fans jumped to their feet like Collin Klein had just scored a touchdown.
Kansas unveiled special uniforms for its game against Texas Tech on Thursday. The uniforms featured short sleeves and striped shorts. Some compared them to Zubaz pants of the 1990s. Adidas is outfitting several teams this postseason with exotic uniforms.
KU won't wear the uniforms in the NCAA Tournament.
“For a game or two, I don't think it's that big of a deal,” said KU coach Bill Self. “Sometimes you gotta be a team player. Kansas tradition and history should be what is promoted for … in our look. And we've done that for years, but this is the one game where we will make that exception for Adidas.”
Texas had staged a mini-revival late in the season, entering the Big 12 Tournament on a three-game winning streak and going 5-3 since point guard Myck Kabongo became eligible on Feb. 13. But Kabongo scored just two points against K-State on Thursday night, on foul shots with 41 seconds left in the game. Kabongo was 0-of-5 from the field with five turnovers, though he did have five assists.
“The first game, I think he had 24 points and he pretty much killed us,” K-State point guard Angel Rodriguez said. “He did whatever he wanted to. So the whole key with them, if you stop Myck Kabongo and you let other players make plays, you're going to have a higher chance of winning the game.