STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — For the third straight time, one basket in the final 5 seconds proved to be the difference between Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
Freshman Marcus Smart provided the difference-maker for the Cowboys this time.
Smart scored 21 points and hit the winning basket with 3.1 seconds left to lift Oklahoma State to a 78-76 victory against the Cyclones on Wednesday night.
Smart zipped back and forth beyond the free throw line trying to lose Iowa State's Will Clyburn before knifing into the lane and releasing a runner over Georges Niang that banked off the glass and in for the Cowboys (14-5, 4-3 Big 12).
"My defender let up on me and I just took him and made a tough shot, but it was a big shot for my team," Smart said.
Tyrus McGee missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Cyclones (14-6, 4-3), who had two chances in a wild final few seconds. For a moment, it appeared Chris Babb would have a chance at two free throws to tie it up with less than a second left before officials huddled and ruled that Iowa State should instead get the ball out of bounds.
"We put ourselves in a bad situation. On the road, you can't leave it up to the refs," Babb said. "We let them go on a run there toward the last couple of minutes. If we had gotten some stops there, we'd be walking out of here with a win."
Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said he'd have to go back and watch the end of the game again and he couldn't "talk about the end of the game right now."
Counterpart Travis Ford said he was pleading with officials to reconsider the initial call.
"If you get fouled and you don't have the ball in your hands, it's player control and they called him for a push before the ball got there," Ford said. "It's player control. That's a player control foul. I'm glad they figured it out. That was good.
"I don't know if he fouled or not. What a crazy deal. I guess we were a second away from him shooting free throws, and I don't know what happens if he shoots."
Babb stepped to the free-throw line and was ready to shoot a one-and-one before John Higgins and his crew gathered and ruled that Le'Bryan Nash's foul was an offensive foul and shouldn't result in free throws. Babb got in front of Nash to catch a long inbounds pass, and Nash shoved him in the back as the ball was in the air to bring on the whistle.
"I ain't going to lie about it. I was mad because we were both pushing each other and stuff," said Nash, who scored 18 points.
"I felt like he was holding my arm. I don't know why he called it on me. But you can't blame the refs. I shouldn't have put my team in that situation. I should have just ran and got the ball."