AMES, Iowa -- Coming off a humbling 56-51 loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday, Iowa State held a players-only meeting Friday that coach Fred Hoiberg wasn't even aware of until a day later.
The message was simple: "If we play the way we know how to play, we're a tough team to beat," freshman Georges Niang said.
Clearly, Will Clyburn heeded the message.
With Iowa State continuing its offensive struggles in the first half against Kansas State on Saturday, the senior wing scored 17 of his game-high 24 points after halftime to lead the Cyclones to a 73-67 win against the No. 11 Wildcats at Hilton Coliseum.
Hoiberg praised Clyburn's aggressive, as he shot 8-of-16 from the field and tied for game-high honors with 10 rebounds. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber also thought he was a difference-maker.
"He's active, he plays point, he plays three, he plays four," Weber said. "He gets you in all different binds, and they just spread you."
Clyburn was influential in the game's deciding stretch. With Iowa State trailing 56-55, Cyclone guard Chris Babb started a 10-2 run with a go-ahead layup with 7:13 left, and Clyburn added four points and a steal that led to a transition dunk after he scooped up a ball that hugged the sideline near half-court but somehow didn't go out of bounds.
Kansas State(15-4, 4-2 Big 12) trimmed its deficit to 68-65 with about two minutes to play on a 3-pointer by Will Spradling, but Clyburn came up big again when he grabbed an offensive rebound with 1:44 left, was fouled and hit both free throws for a 70-65 lead. Moments earlier Clyburn's offensive rebound had led to a 3-pointer by Niang that gave the Cyclones a 68-62 lead.
"We're a rebounding team. That's just something we do," Clyburn said. "That's something we preach and practice. I hear the coaches all the time (saying), 'Crash, crash, crash, get the offensive rebound.' That's what I wanted to do."
Niang had 15 points for the Cyclones, and point guard Korie Lucious added 10 points and eight assists. Lucious also sealed the game with a high-banking layup for a 72-67 lead with 20 seconds left.
Kansas State led 27-26 at halftime, but Iowa State retook a four-point lead by hitting five 3-pointers in the first six minutes of the second half.
The Wildcats just wouldn't go away, though. Angel Rodriguez's three-point play with 12:20 left drew them within 46-45, and Spradling converted a four-point play to tie the game at 49-49 with 11:02 left before Shane Southwell's 3-pointer gave them their final lead at 56-55.
"It was a heck of a ballgame," Weber said. "Especially the second half, both teams got going and couldn't stop each other. But they made the plays down the stretch.
"It's a maturity game, it's a determination game," he added. "Who was more determined? And I think they made more determined plays when it counted."
Spradling had a team-high 15 points, and Rodney McGruder added 13 for Kansas State (15-4, 4-2 Big 12), which has now lost two straight after suffering a 59-55 home loss to No. 3 Kansas on Tuesday. The Wildcats shot 64 percent in the second half Saturday, and 51 percent for the game, but they were hurt by being outrebounded 35-28 and allowing 11 offensive rebounds.
"It's frustrating, but we've got to come back ... and practice harder," Southwell said. "We'll be fine. We'll be fine. We're going to compete at a high level."
The win kept the Cyclones (14-5, 4-2) in the top half of the Big 12, and it also provided them with a renewed confidence. With the nation's 11th-best scoring offense entering the weekend, Iowa State had been going through some uncharacteristic offensive woes, shooting just 35 percent in the loss at Texas Tech and following that up with a 26-point first half against Kansas State.
But the Cyclones found their groove in the second half, shooting 52 percent and making 8 of 11 3-pointers. They shot 48 percent overall.
"We reverted back to who we were earlier in the season," Hoiberg said. "When we share it with each other, we're a pretty tough team to stop."
NOTES: Iowa State reserve guard Bubu Palo made his first appearance of the season with 14:33 left in the first half. After being suspended indefinitely, he was reinstated to the team on Jan. 14, the same day sexual assault charges against him were dismissed. He finished with one rebound and one assist in 11 minutes. ... Kansas State entered with the Big 12's second-best 3-point percentage defense (27.6) but allowed Iowa State to shoot 50 percent (11-of-22) from deep. ... McGruder played all 40 minutes for Kansas State. ... Neither team did itself any favors at the free-throw line. The Cyclones were 10-of-22 on foul shots, and the Wildcats were 4-of-9. ... Iowa State won its 18th consecutive home game, tied for the eighth-longest streak in the country.