MANHATTAN, Kan. -- No. 13 Kansas State pulled away from Iowa State in the second half to avenge an earlier loss in Ames, Iowa, and grab sole possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference with a 79-70 victory on Saturday in a packed Bramlage Coliseum.
Kansas State (19-4, 8-2) owns a one-game lead over Kansas and Oklahoma, setting up a showdown with No. 5 Kansas on Monday night in Lawrence, Kan. K-State will be looking to open a cushion on the Jayhawks, the eight-time defending conference champions.
K-State has not won a conference championship in basketball since 1977 when the Wildcats were in the Big Eight Conference.
Iowa State (16-7, 6-4) came in with the reputation of chucking it from long range, but K-State was not going to be left out. The teams combined for 21 3-pointers. Iowa State was 12 of 27 from beyond the arc and Kansas State was 9 of 18. But Kansas State was just a little bit better in some key areas to clinch the victory.
The Wildcats held a 24-20 edge on the boards, including 11-9 on the offensive end. The Cats forced 18 turnovers to 14 for Iowa State. The biggest advantage was at the free-throw line, where K-State finished 18 of 22 to Iowa State's 6 of 7.
Both teams came out in the second half trading mini-spurts. After Iowa State scored the first bucket to claim a one-point lead, runs of 5-0 and 8-0 for K-State and 5-0 and 5-0 for Iowa State had the two teams nearly deadlocked.
K-State pulled away to a 46-39 lead early in the second half, but Tyrus McGee scored 11 straight Iowa State points, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range and the score was tied again at 50.
Kansas State used a 12-3 run to extend a one-point lead to 65-55 with 6:12 left. The Cyclones could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Kansas State spotted Iowa State the first two points of the game before running off 11 straight. Angel Rodriguez had five points and Rodney McGruder, who led the Wildcats with 22 points, added four in the run.
But Korie Lucious scored seven points to key a 13-1 run for Iowa State. When Chris Babb hit a 3-pointer, Iowa State led 20-17. But that was just the start of the long-range shooting barrage.
After McGruder hit a floater in the lane, Babb hit another trey followed by one by Lucious and the Cyclones led by seven. But McGruder and Shane Southwell hit treys to cut the lead to three points. The teams traded baskets the rest of the half, and K-State went to the locker room with a 33-32 lead on Martavious Irving's 10-foot jumper in the lane.
NOTES: All but one of Kansas State's losses have come against teams currently ranked among the top six teams in the country, and one of its wins did as well. The Wildcats have lost to No. 3 Michigan and No. 6 Gonzaga on neutral courts and at home to No. 5 Kansas. They also beat No. 2 Florida on a neutral court. ... The lone K-State loss to an unranked team was a 59-55 decision at Iowa State on Jan. 26. ... Iowa State came into the game leading the Big 12and was among the top 10 teams in the nation in scoring (78.7, eighth in the country) and 3-point field goals per game (9.1, sixth).