No doubting Thomas
By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
AMES — Senior Matt Thomas scored a career-high 25 points and Iowa State held off a furious Kansas State rally to win 70-65 on Tuesday night for its fourth victory in six games.
Naz Mitrou-Long had 13 and Monte Morris scored 12 for the Cyclones (13-6, 5-3 Big 12), who blew a 46-26 lead but survived after Mitrou-Long’s steal and free throws with 21 seconds left.
Thomas, who entered averaging 11 points per outing, scored 20 points in a blistering first half as Iowa State jumped ahead 43-26. Thomas opened the second half with a 3-pointer to make it a 20-point game.
It seemed over — until K-State (15-5, 4-4) answered with a stunning 32-11 run that gave it a 58-57 lead with just over five minutes remaining.
Morris scored on back-to-back possessions to give Iowa State the lead back, and Deonte Burton’s layup with 39 seconds to go gave the Cyclones a cushion that proved crucial in the closing moments.
Wesley Iwundu had 15 points for the Wildcats. Their three road losses in the Big 12 have come by a total of eight points.
THE BIG PICTURE
Iowa State: The first half went like the Cyclones hope to play every night — forcing tough shots, crashing the glass and getting back up to the floor as quickly as possible to get its talented scorers advantageous looks. Iowa State got away from that in the second half and, quite frankly, was lucky to hold on.
Kansas State: The Wildcats couldn’t find Thomas in the first half. Thomas buried six of his first eight tries from 3-point range — from spots all over the floor — and that nearly helped bury K-State. The Wildcats again showed their mettle on the road in the second half, but the breaks didn’t go their way in the final minute.
Iowa State plays Saturday at Vanderbilt in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. A win in Nashville could push the Cyclones back into the Top 25.
Kansas State travels to face Tennessee on Saturday.