SAN ANTONIO — Iowa State Coach Fred Hoiberg scribbled intently.
His star senior guard, DeAndre Kane, studied.
With 15.7 seconds remaining in Sunday’s pulse-pounding, run-filled, third-round NCAA tournament game against North Carolina, one play — they hoped — remained to be called.
The score: Cyclones 83, Tar Heels 81.
North Carolina’s James Michael McAdoo — a 53 percent foul shooter — sank two free throws.
Kane took the inbounds.
Drive, split two Tar Heels in the paint with less than two seconds left and …
“Made a crazy layup,” Kane explained long after fans in the AT&T Center became slack-jawed after an 85-83 ISU triumph.
Crazy’s one word for it.
Thousands of Cyclone fans exulted, players and coaches hugged — and despite North Carolina wanting a last split-second timeout that was ruled to come too late, ISU’s leaping toward its first Sweet 16 appearance since 2000.
Next stop: New York City — home to forward Dustin Hogue, who had fouled out just before McAdoo’s free throws.
And home to Cyclones assistant Matt Abdelmassih — who used to be a manager in the Garden for St. John’s.
“It’s official now,” said Hogue, who scored 14 points and grabbed five second-half rebounds before heading to the bench shortly before the decisive isolation play to Kane began being drawn up. “We’re going there and I’m happier than ever to be able to go home.”
The third-seeded Cyclones (28-7) needed a big late run to make a trip to the Big Apple possible.
The sixth-seeded Tar Heels (24-10) led 76-68 with 4:23 left after Kennedy Meeks’ layup.
Cue ISU shooting specialist Naz Long, who drilled a 3-pointer.
Then freshman Monte Morris swished one from beyond the arc.
Cyclone forward Melvin Ejim continued the 8-0 splurge that spanned 1:51 with a layup assisted by Kane, setting up the wild finish that included a game-tying 3-pointer from Long that prompted Niang — who is sidelined for the season with a broken right foot — to rise up and smile broadly amid the melodious noise.
“I looked right at him,” Long said of that moment. “I told you guys he was going to be the biggest cheerleader, and Georges told me, ‘I feel a big shot coming from you, man.’”
Actually, Long drilled four of them — helping the Cyclones to 55 percent second-half shooting.
“This one’s for Georges, for (late ISU coach) Johnny (Orr), for coach Fred (Hoiberg),” Long said. “There was a lot going into this game.”
A great deal coming out of it, too.
ISU will face seventh-seeded Connecticut Friday at 6:27 p.m. in an East regional semifinal.
The Cyclones — led by Kane’s 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists — will play in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in school history, and first since advancing to the Elite Eight 14 years ago.
Ejim added 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” Hoiberg said.
But the ensuing celebration that included Hoiberg dancing in the locker room was delayed by North Carolina insisting it had signaled for timeout before the buzzer sounded.
No controversy here, though.
“Let’s not let anybody lay this on the officials,” Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams said.
No, lay this one on Kane, who said he might have passed the ball if an expected double team in the final seconds had materialized.
“I was definitely not passing it,” Kane said.