Iowa State finally got the bench production it's been looking for heading into March.
McKay added 14 points with 17 rebounds off the bench for the notoriously-thin Cyclones (20-9, 9-7 Big 12), who got 24 points from their reserves and outscored the Wildcats by 18 in the second half.
"This is the time of year you have to have your team figured out," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "The second half, you saw us at a really good clip offensively and defensively."
Iowa State strung together 13-0 runs in each half, which proved to be the difference. The Wildcats pulled as close as 65-59 before backup Hallice Cooke's 3 with just under four minutes left swung momentum back in favor of the Cyclones.
D.J. Johnson had 22 with nine boards for Kansas State (15-14, 4-12), which shot just 4 of 18 from 3-point range.
"It's all the little details that make the difference in the game," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said, pointing to Monte Morris's buzzer-beating 3 to end the first half when K-State had a foul to give. "It's a shame because our guys work so hard. They give themselves a chance. But you've got to be smart."
Iowa State's dream of a share of the Big 12 title ended last weekend when Kansas secured its 12th league win.
But the Cyclones are still hoping they have a big run left in them.
Beating K-State was a necessary start.
Two consecutive 3s from Thomas in the left corner put Iowa State ahead 45-39 early in the second half. Cooke, who has mostly struggled in his first season with the Cyclones after transferring from Oregon State, then drilled one from that exact spot to make it 48-39.
Deonte Burton's first basket, an emphatic one-handed dunk, pushed Iowa State's lead to 60-45. K-State answered with seven straight and Niang was forced to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:27 left. But McKay followed Cooke's huge 3 with a dunk as the Cyclones pulled away.
Cooke finished with 10 points after being held scoreless for four straight games.
"He was a huge spark off the bench," Thomas said. "I think he can be that for us every night."
Iowa State: Niang started for the 120th time Saturday. ... All five Cyclones starters entered play averaging at least 10 points and four boards a game. ... Thomas completed a rare four-point play to give Iowa State its first lead, 17-14. He later moved into seventh place in school history on made 3s.
Kansas State: The Wildcats played their 13th ranked team this season, surpassing the school record of 12 set in 2010-11 and 2014-15. ... K-State forced 13 turnovers against one of the best teams in the Big 12 at securing the ball.
McKay was suspended for two games for violating team rules, and he was bounced from the starting lineup upon his return. McKay finally returned to his earlier form against the Wildcats, and the Cyclones hope it'll be a turning point. McKay's double-double was his sixth of the year but just his first since January 6.
"My focus was as good as it's been all year. I just came out and wanted to play with energy," McKay said. "I need people to know that I'm going to give 100 percent effort every time I'm on the court."
The Cyclones close out their home schedule Monday night against Oklahoma State.
Kansas State hosts TCU on Wednesday.
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