AMES — Oklahoma State point guard Marcus Smart will make a lot of money in the NBA, but he’ll have to set a large stack of it on fire to feel as warm as Iowa State counterpart DeAndre Kane did Saturday.
Both had 27 points. Smart did about everything a great player could do against the Cyclones in Hilton Coliseum with one significant exception: Make it to overtime.
Kane did about everything a great player could do against the Cowboys in overtime.
Watching the five minutes of extra time from the Cowboys’ sideline after fouling out with 8.9 seconds left in regulation, Smart saw Kane carry the Cyclones to an 85-81 victory that seemed improbable much of the day.
Kane had seven points in overtime and seemed to have his hands on the ball in every important moment of the OT. “We ran everything through DeAndre,” ISU Coach Fred Hoiberg said.
But the best play of the many good plays he made in the game came in the last seconds of the second half.
Iowa State had the ball with five seconds left after Phil Forte III missed the second of two foul shots and OSU led 71-68. Kane whipped it to sophomore guard Naz Long, who then let a 3-pointer fly that was all net.
Hilton went extra-cuckoo.
“He was wide open and I gave it to him,” Kane said. “I did call for it back.”
He said it in a deadpan style, so we’ll assume he was joking. He did quickly add “I thought it was going in.”
Forte entered the game an 88.9 percent foul-shooter. He was 5-of-8 including his fateful miss to give the Cyclones the chance to tie.
Kane was a 63.3 percent free-thrower. He was 10-of-14 this day, and sank five in the overtime including the proverbial dagger with 1.7 seconds left.
Moments later, after the handshake line broke up and everyone else had returned to their locker rooms, Kane took a victory lap. He slapped hands with fans of many different ages, glowing in an arena he had never seen before last summer.
“The fans were screaming their lungs out all day,” Kane said. “I just wanted to thank them.”
What would the Cyclones be without the transfer of Kane from Marshall? Not 23-7 overall and 11-7 in the Big 12, that’s for sure.
What would Kane be without a big stage to showcase his vast array of skills? Unfulfilled.
“It was probably my best year in college basketball,” he said. He said he was thankful to Iowa State “for giving me a second chance, a chance to straighten up.”
Marshall, 13-19 last year, basically sent Kane on his way.
“After meeting with DeAndre,” Thundering Herd Coach Tom Herrion said in a statement last year, “I have decided it is in our program’s and his best interest that he seek opportunities elsewhere.”
But what is life without second-chances? Some who aren’t of the Cyclone persuasion have knocked Hoiberg for running a home for runaways from other programs. You don’t hear that criticism as much as you once did, though.
That’s probably because the transfers have helped win a lot of games. And once they get here, to use Kane’s words, they straighten up.
There’s a lot of motivation to having a big senior season at a Big 12 program. Chris Babb, who transferred here from Penn State, recently got a call-up from the NBA D-League by the Boston Celtics.
All season, Kane has had a combination of numbers you just don’t often see from college players. He averages 17 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He had 27, 7 and 8 Saturday.
ISU forward Melvin Ejim got the majority of the affection from fans in the Seniors Day postgame ceremony, and with good reason. Ejim performed here for four seasons and blossomed into a wonderful talent, a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate.
How much does Iowa State like Ejim, last year’s Big 12 Scholar-Athlete of the Year? Enough to have its pep band play a stirring rendition of “O Canada” Saturday before it played the U.S.’ national anthem.
But Ejim and Georges Niang, two-thirds of Iowa State’s three-headed offensive beast, also missed the overtime with five fouls. Long saved the day for the Cyclones. Then Kane grabbed the opportunity for redemption and ran with it.