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AMES, Iowa (AP) — In their last night at Hilton Coliseum, Iowa State's four senior starters gave the Cyclones one last home win that came down to the buzzer.
Matt Thomas scored 25 points and No. 24 Iowa State held off a furious challenge from Oklahoma State on Tuesday night, winning 86-83 to close out its home schedule with its sixth straight win.
Fellow senior Monte Morris added 12 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Cyclones (20-9, 12-5 Big 12), who clinched their sixth consecutive 20-win season and swept the Cowboys for the fourth straight year.
"We never make it easy on you guys. We always make it close," Thomas joked while addressing the crowd after the game.
Thomas wasn't wrong, given that 13 of Iowa State's league games have been decided by 10 points or less.
Oklahoma State's Jawun Evans had a lot to do with the Cyclones' latest cliffhanger.
Evans scored 29 points and Leyton Hammonds had 19 to lead Oklahoma State (20-10, 9-8), which lost for just the second time in 12 games.
Morris forced a turnover under his own basket with 7.7 seconds left and Oklahoma State looking for a game-tying 3 — and Thomas hit an easy layup off Morris' inbounds pass. Evans then hit a 3, but Donovan Jackson hit a free throw and Evans couldn't get a desperation heave off before the buzzer.
"He gives us a chance to win," Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said.
Evans was fouled from 3-point range with 13.8 seconds to go and the Cowboys down four. Evans hit all three from the line, but Naz Mitrou-Long answered with two free throws to make it 83-80 5 seconds later.
"It (ticks) me off, to be quite honest. We should have won the game. I'm not into moral victories. They're really good. That's a given. I think we're really good. I think, we get in the NCAA Tournament, we can beat anybody — just as they can," Underwood said.
Iowa State seniors Deonte Burton and Mitrou-Long had 20 points and 17 points, respectively. The Cyclones once again overcame a huge disparity on the boards, this time 40-27, by shooting 15 of 31 from 3-point range with just seven turnovers.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys will be a fascinating case study for the NCAA Tournament committee despite the loss. Beating top-ranked Kansas on Saturday would help convince the committee that the Cowboys' closing stretch was much more of an indicator of future success than their rough start to league play.
Iowa State: Tuesday was about honoring one of the best senior classes the Cyclones have ever had. Morris, Mitrou-Long, Thomas and Burton did more than just build a bridge between the Fred Hoiberg and Steve Prohm eras. Those four players kept Iowa State relevant nationally. Iowa State will have to rebuild in 2017-18. But with four top-100 recruits eligible as freshmen next season, the Cyclones have to be optimistic about their future. "It hasn't been easy. We've gone through a lot of adversity, and you guys have stayed the course," Prohm said about his seniors.
A win at West Virginia on Friday could push Iowa State into the Top 20 — and, more importantly, give it yet another marquee road win.
With a steal early in the first half, Morris broke the school record of 211 previously held by longtime NBA standout Jeff Hornacek. Morris, the nation's leader in assist-to-turnover ratio, broke the program mark for assists also held by Hornacek earlier in his career. "This train is not going to stop rolling," Morris said of the Cyclones.
Iowa State closes out the regular season at No. 10 West Virginia on Friday.
Oklahoma hosts the top-ranked Jayhawks on Saturday.
More college basketball at www.collegebasketball.ap.org
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