KANSAS CITY, Mo.— Iowa State coach Steve Prohm looked around for his family as confetti rained down upon the floor at the Sprint Center.
Freshman guard Tyrese Haliburton ran back and forth in front of the band, high-fiving each member as he passed. Redshirt senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb found his former teammate, Utah Jazz guard Naz Mitrou-Long, and hugged him.
After three weeks of turmoil, confusion, flaring tempers and more losses than wins, the Cyclones won their fourth Big 12 Tournament title in the last six years by beating Kansas 78-66.
"We've been talking about this since the summer, really," Haliburton said. "A Big 12 championship. We didn't win the regular season like we made our mission, but we won this one.
"We didn't wanna peak early. This is the best we're playing right now."
The Cyclones lost six of their last eight games to end the regular season. But as Haliburton said, the team seems to have found its stride again.
Iowa State is up 17 on Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game, which is a sentence I did not expect to be true two weeks ago.— Aaron Marner (@A_Mar32) March 16, 2019
Saturday's game turned into a coronation of sorts as the clock ticked closer to zeroes. The animosity within the team that reared its ugly head during a shoving match between redshirt junior forward Michael Jacobson and freshman guard Talen Horton-Tucker was gone.
Unlike the 2016-17 Cyclone squad that won the Big 12 Tournament, this year's team didn't peak as the postseason drew near. Instead, coach Steve Prohm's team waited until the last minute to fix its problems.
"This team took a different route," Prohm said. "It's a quick fix. You're dealing with 18 to 22-year-old kids ... it can flip quick, it can go sideways quick and it can get back on track quick."
After the game, Jacobson, sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton and redshirt senior guard Marial Shayok were named to the All-Tournament team. Shayok earned Most Outstanding Player honors.
Just last week, Shayok was questionable for his senior day game with a foot injury.
He said the victory Saturday is why he came to Iowa State.
"It feels amazing," Shayok said with a grin across his face. "It's exactly what I had envisioned when I came here. I knew we had a talented team. To do this with this group of guys is the best feeling in the world.
"It's amazing, I don't know what to describe it — it's just a great feeling."
The Cyclones now await their NCAA Tournament fate. While Iowa State is guaranteed a bid, the team's seeding and location might have changed drastically with its championship run.
The team will watch Selection Sunday together and get back to work almost immediately.
But for now, the Cyclones will celebrate.
"We were dead, man," Jacobson said. "We were dead in the water. A lot of people were counting us out. We just fought, we fought, we fought. We built some momentum against [Texas] Tech. We just tried to build on it and keep it rolling into here and that's what we did.
"You gotta have [problems] sometimes. You've gotta break yourself down and build yourself back up. I think that's what we did."