Scott Drew

VIDEO: Rodney McGruder three beats Baylor at the buzzer

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The final second of No. 13 Kansas State’s 64-61 win at Baylor on Saturday night couldn’t have been more symbolic.

With the game tied and just 1.0 on the clock, Baylor had the ball under the Kansas State basket, needing to go the length of the floor, Tate George-style, to get a bucket and beat the Wildcats in a game they desperately needed for their NCAA tournament profile.

The play Scott Drew draws up? A full-court pass to 7-foot-1 Isaiah Austin at the rim. Ideal in theory, until the guy throwing the ball in-bounds tossed it over Austin’s outstretched arms and out of bounds without being touched.

Kansas State ball, under their own basket, setting up this final play, where the Bears somehow manage to forget to guard the Wildcat’s best player:

Fitting, isn’t it?

But there’s more to the story than a simple chuckle about Baylor and Scott Drew.

The Bears needed this win. Badly. Their NCAA tournament prospects are slowly but surely slipping through their fingers as they continue to miss out on the kind of quality wins they need to bolster what is a weak profile. The Bears will still have their chances — they get Kansas at home and still have to play in the Big 12 tournament — but the likelihood of seeing Pierre Jackson donning¬†fluorescent yellow in the Big Dance is now severely diminished.

Kansas State, on the other hand, still holds their Big 12 destiny in their hands.

They entered Saturday tied with Kansas for first place in the conference standings. A loss here would have dropped them a game back with two games left. The Jayhawks still look like the favorite, as K-State’s final game of the season is a trip to Gallagher-Iba Arena to take on Oklahoma State, but thanks to McGruder, Kansas State can still earn their share of the Big 12 title without having to hope for a Jayhawk loss.

I wonder how many Illinois fans are scratching their heads watching a Bruce Weber team finish the season strong?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons.¬†Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.