Kansas State could have crumbled when TCU's Desmond Bane knocked down a desperation 3-pointer to force overtime in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.
Or when Vlad Brodziansky gave the Horned Frogs the lead in the extra session.
Instead, the Wildcats kept their poise, turned to their stingy and consistent defense, and leaned on star guard Barry Brown to convert the go-ahead lay-up with 11.2 seconds to go. And when the Horned Frogs' Alex Robinson missed two free throws at the other end, Kansas State had a 66-64 victory at Sprint Center that not only meant a semifinal berth but also may have locked up an NCAA Tournament bid.
"It was tough for us, but it was nothing we've ever been through before," Brown said of Bane's clutch 3. "We play overtime all the time in practice. It was something we were prepared for."
The Horned Frogs actually had the ball with the game tied at 64 and 34.5 seconds to go. But when Robinson's pass was deflected out of bounds, a video review showed Brodziansky touched it last, and the officials reversed their original call and gave Kansas State the ball.
Brown's driving layup gave the Wildcats the lead, and Robinson tried to answer with his own layup with 1.3 seconds to go. But when he was fouled by Makol Mawien, the Horned Frog's guard — a 60-percent foul shooter — missed the first of two free throws, forcing him to also miss the second.
Kansas State corralled the rebound to seal the overtime win.
"Hopefully that solidifies our chance to be in the NCAA Tournament. Now they've got to want more," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "Go get to the finals and see what happens."
Mawien finished with 16 points, and Xavier Sneed and Dean Wade scored 12 apiece for the fourth-seeded Wildcats (22-10), who advanced to play Kansas in Friday night's semis.
Kenrich Williams led the Horned Frogs (21-11) with 20 points. Robinson contributed 16 points on 6-for-15 shooting, and he finished with seven turnovers – none more costly than the last.
"They're a really sound defensive team," said Robinson, whose Horned Frogs were held to fewer than 70 points by the Wildcats in all three meetings this season. "Just a really good defensive team."
The teams couldn't have played a more even first half, swapping the lead seven times with seven ties and ending 30-all at the break. Both were 2 of 8 from beyond the arc, the Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field and the Horned Frogs shot 52, and neither team made a free throw.
Hardly a surprise, given the teams split in the regular-season with each winning at home.
TCU finally put together the first big run in the opening minutes of the second half. Robinson started it with a free throw and ended it with a jumper, and Williams added five points during the 11-0 spurt, which gave the Horned Frogs a 43-34 lead with 14½ minutes to go.
Kansas State clawed right back thanks to a series of Horned Frogs miscues. At one point, Robinson turned it over three times in a span of four possessions, then blew a wide open layup in transition.
Cartier Diarra scored at the other end for Kansas State, knotting the game 53-all.
Kansas State kept the momentum going, edging ahead 59-56 when the Horned Frogs' J.D. Miller was called for basket interference with 52.3 seconds left. But after Williams missed at the other end for TCU, coach Jamie Dixon elected to play defense rather than foul the Wildcats.
Brown's long 3-pointer missed with eight seconds left, and that gave Bane enough time – by a fraction of a second – to hit his only basket of the game and force overtime.
It wound up simply prolonging an important victory for the Wildcats.
"Two NCAA Tournament teams playing in March," Dixon said. "We played good. I thought we could have played better. We played hard, but I don't think we finished it off as well as we could have."
TCU had never lost to the Wildcats in the postseason, beating them in the NCAA, NIT and Big 12 tournaments over the years. It also ended a streak of three straight conference tournaments in which the Horned Frogs had won at least one game.
Kansas State won four of six to finish the regular season, and now should feel comfortable about an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament despite its pillow-soft non-conference schedule.
"We just knew it was going to be a grind-out game the whole game. Wouldn't expect it not to go into overtime, I guess you could say." — Kansas State forward Dean Wade.
TCU heads back to Fort Worth, Texas, to wait out Selection Sunday.
Kansas State tries to beat Kansas for the first time this season in the Big 12 semifinals.