Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler (00) and Iowa State's Georges Niang (31) battle for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Big 12 Conference tournament Friday, March 13, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Cha
Charlie Riedel
March 14, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Iowa State isn't doing its athletic director any favors these days.

You see, Jamie Pollard is trying to recover from a heart attack that he had while watching his kids in a track meet earlier this week. Yet, the Cyclones have made him suffer through a pair of nail-biters, the kind of nip-and-tuck games that hardly help the stress level.

First, it was Monte Morris hitting a buzzer-beater against Texas. Then on Friday night, it was Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler missing his own buzzer-beater that gave No. 13 Iowa State a 67-65 win over the No. 15 Sooners and a spot in the Big 12 Tournament championship.

''I'm surprised his doctor has let him watch the games,'' Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg said with a smile. ''But at the end of it, it's great therapy I think for him. Keeps some normalcy.''

Hoiberg should know. He has a heart condition of his own that has already required surgery, and he is scheduled to have another operation when the season is over.

In other words, Hoiberg's team isn't doing him any favors, either.

''The comeback kids strike again,'' said Georges Niang, who led the way with 13 points. ''All we need is each other, and we put our best foot forward every time.''

Jameel McKay added 12 points and Monte Morris had 11 for the second-seeded Cyclones (24-8), who will play No. 9 Kansas - the tournament's top seed - for the title Saturday night.

Buddy Hield had 16 points to lead the fourth-seeded Sooners (22-10), who blew an early 11-point lead but still had plenty of chances down the stretch to win the game.

Isaiah Cousins added 14 points, and TaShawn Thomas and Jordan Woodard added 13 points apiece for the Sooners, who haven't played for the title since winning three straight from 2001-03.

''Feel bad for Ryan for what he's going through right now, but we've got to find a way to pick him back up,'' Hield said. ''But we got to go into the NCAA Tournament and we've got to make a big run and stick together no matter what. Win, lose or draw, we've got to stick together as a group.''

The Cyclones got off to a lousy start for the fourth straight game, this time letting the Sooners jump out to a 21-10 lead. But just like the first three, Iowa State reeled them back.

The Cyclones still trailed 27-19 when they put together a 10-2 spurt into halftime. Bryce Dejean-Jones and Naz Long hit back-to-back 3s, and Long added another basket to give the Cyclones their first lead, before Hield's free throws knotted the game at 29.

Iowa State pushed out to a 50-42 lead midway through the second half, but that was as close as either team came to creating separation. Oklahoma answered with a charge of its own, and Hield finished off a 10-2 spurt that made it 58-all with about 8 minutes left.

From there, it was a sprint to the finish.

Iowa State took a 64-61 lead on a putback by McKay, and after the big forward blocked Woodard at the other end, Niang scored on a nifty fadeaway to make it 66-61 with 1:52 to go.

Spangler scored on a reverse layup at the other end for Oklahoma, and after the Cyclones came up empty on offense, the Sooners raced back the other way. Hield missed a tightly guarded 3 that would have tied the game, but Thomas was there for the putback with 12.6 seconds left.

Oklahoma quickly fouled Niang, an 81-percent free-throw shooter. He came up short on his first attempt before making his second, leaving the door open for the Sooners.

Thomas inbounded the ball to Woodard, and he drove right at Niang. The ball ended up in the hands of Spangler, but the junior forward's shot trickled off the rim as the clock expired.

The Cyclones raced off their bench to celebrate for the second straight night.

''They went on a run, which we knew they would, but we held our composure, which was a great sign,'' Hoiberg said, ''and that's what allowed us to win the game.''


Hoiberg spoke to Pollard on the phone and said his AD is in good spirits.

''Hopefully he'll be able to get out of there in a few days and then it's the road to recovery,'' Hoiberg said.


Oklahoma only got two points from its bench - a basket by Khadeem Lattin in the second half Friday night - in two Big 12 Tournament games.


Oklahoma: Hield was just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc. ... The Sooners blew a 21-point lead against Iowa state on March 2.

Iowa State: Niang added eight rebounds and four assists. ... The Cyclones got 17 points off the bench. ... Iowa State won despite getting outrebounded 43-27.


Oklahoma: awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding Sunday.

Iowa State: faces the Jayhawks for the title Saturday night.

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