Iowa State needed an answer.
Kansas State was in the midst of a monster second half. The Cyclones' 35-25 halftime lead had evaporated. With less than three minutes to go, Kansas State held a 55-50 lead.
Then redshirt senior guard Nick Weiler-Babb nailed a pair of free throws. Redshirt senior guard Marial Shayok tied it with a three that went in, out and back in. He followed it up with another corner three to give the Cyclones a lead they wouldn't surrender.
In Iowa State's miraculous 63-59 win over top-seeded Kansas State, the Cyclones' best players stepped up when it mattered.
"Big time players make big-time plays in big-time games," said freshman guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton, who finished the game with four points and six critical rebounds, had some big plays of his own.
With Kansas State leading 21-14, sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton missed a 3-pointer for the Cyclones. Haliburton leapt in the air and kicked the rebound out to the perimeter. Wigginton wound up with the ball in his hands again. He pulled up for a long two and missed, but Haliburton was once again in position for the offensive rebound — this time, a tip-in layup.
"That was huge," Weiler-Babb said. "We kinda struggled a little bit. He came in, got the offensive rebound, we miss a shot and he got another offensive rebound for the tip-in. Man, that kinda just got us going. He's playing with heart out there.
"He's not scoring a lot but the things he does, the intangible things, you wouldn't expect that from a freshman."
After Haliburton's tip-in, the Cyclones got on a roll. Beginning with that play, Iowa State finished the first half on a 21-4 run.
As it turned out, the Cyclones needed each and every point they got in that span.
Kansas State came roaring out of the halftime break. Iowa State's defense held the Wildcats to 35 percent shooting (22-of-63) for the game, but 17 Iowa State turnovers and some prolonged cold stretches kept Kansas State in the game.
Still, the Cyclones didn't let it get away. Big time players making big time plays in big time games, as Haliburton said.
"That's what every kid dreams of," Shayok said. "Hitting those big shots with the shot clock going down. I've been dreaming of that for a long time ... hopefully we're not in that close of a game, but if we are I'm gonna be ready for it."
After Iowa State weathered the Kansas State storm and took a lead of its own in the final minute, the Cyclones put the ball in the hands of its best players yet again. Wigginton, Weiler-Babb and Shayok did the majority of the ball-handling as the Cyclones anticipated fouls from the Wildcats.
Those three — the Cyclones' three leading scorers on the night, led by Shayok's 21 — combined to hit 5-of-6 from the free throw line in the final minute of the game.
"We just fought," said redshirt junior forward Michael Jacobson, who led the team with 16 rebounds. "We fought, we fought and we fought and we fought. Eventually, it went our way. That's just what you've got to do."