Marial Shayok had watched shot after shot hit everything but net Friday night, and Iowa State's leading scorer and veteran leader could very well have grown hesitant and frustrated.
Instead, he hit the two biggest shots of the game.
Shayok rattled in a tying 3-pointer down the stretch, swished another from right in front of his own bench, then added a couple of free throws in the closing seconds to help the fifth-seeded Cyclones beat No. 15 Kansas State 63-59 in the Big 12 semifinals at Sprint Center.
"I had all the confidence in the world," Shayok said, "despite missing a bunch of shots in the second half. I just kept my confidence. This team has my back and the coaches have my back."
Shayok finished with 21 points, Nick Weiler-Babb added 12 and Iowa State (22-11) advanced to play Kansas or West Virginia on Saturday night. The Cyclones are 4-0 when playing for the title.
"We had lots of chances," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "Shayok with the big 3 when we were all struggling making shots – he stepped up and made that big 3 that turned the game."
Cartier Diarra had 15 points to lead five players in double figures for the Wildcats (25-8), who shared the regular-season title with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were bounced from the tournament by the 10th-seeded Mountaineers in the quarterfinals Friday night.
The Wildcats once again played without All-Big 12 forward Dean Wade, who sat on the bench with a walking boot on his right foot. It remains unclear whether he'll be ready for the NCAA Tournament.
KANSAS 88, WEST VIRGINIA 74: Dedric Lawson poured in 24 points, Quentin Grimes added 18 before leaving late with cramps and No. 17 Kansas roared away from West Virginia for an 88-74 victory Friday night in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals.
Devon Dotson added 13 points and Marcus Garrett had 11 for the third-seeded and reigning champion Jayhawks (25-8). They advanced to play No. 5 seed Iowa State for the title Saturday night.
Kansas has advanced to the championship game three of the past four years.
The 10th-seeded Mountaineers (14-20) led much of the first half and hung tough early in the second, but three games in three days finally caught up to them. Tough wins over Oklahoma and No. 8 Texas Tech left them with tired legs – probably minds, too – and the Jayhawks eventually went on a 13-2 run midway through the second half to seize control.
The lead reached 20 with 7 1/2 minutes to go, and the Jayhawks cruised the rest of the way.