KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Iowa State was without its two best guards before the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Tyrese Haliburton and Rasir Bolton.
On Wednesday against Oklahoma State, Prentiss Nixon split his head open in the first half. The Iowa State training staff was able to stop the bleeding in the locker room and Nixon played through the injury in the second half. He scored a season-high 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting.
His strong performance wasn’t enough, though, and Iowa State’s season came to an end in a 72-71 at Sprint Center.
“He came out and battled, give him a ton of credit with what happened to his head,” Michael Jacobson said of Nixon. “The biggest thing he did for us was making shots. He got to his spots on offense and played with a ton of confidence and knocked them down. It was great to see that for him.”
Iowa State led with eight seconds left after a Terrence Lewis dunk, but Oklahoma State’s Isaac Likelele immediately took the ball and went coast-to-coast for the game-winning layup.
“(Likelele) was good tonight,” Prohm said. “You want to put pressure on him so he can’t get down hill and use his burst of speed. There aren’t many guards that can go the length of the floor at the end of a game and finish like he did with his left hand. Credit to him — he had a very good game for them.”
Likelele had 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including the game-winning layup. He also had nine assists and five rebounds to go along with his impressive scoring.
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The Cyclones (12-20) got strong performances out of their two true freshmen, who were starting in place of Haliburton and Bolton.
Caleb Grill played 39 minutes, scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from beyond the arc and pulled down eight rebounds. His minutes, points, made 3-pointers and rebounds were all career highs.
Tre Jackson helped handle the point guard duties with Haliburton and Bolton out. He played 40 minutes and scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field and grabbed four rebounds.
“I’m proud of them,” Jacobson said. “I told them after the game that was I was proud of how they stepped up. They did a great job in their first March, postseason game and I think they will have a ton of success going forward. They have to keep moving forward and build on it and realize what this program is about and that this season was unacceptable.”
Iowa State didn’t have the season that anybody in the program wanted. But Prohm wanted his team to win this game on grit to have a good feeling going into the off season.
“I just wanted these guys to have an opportunity to play Kansas,” Prohm said. “In this tournament, you love playing Kansas. I wanted to win a game like this because these guys have been through a lot an I thought we made the last play but then they made one more and that’s what bothers you as a coach because we had the opportunity. We’ve won championships but not all of the guys on this team have won a championship.
“You want them to have a moment and see what it feels like to win a game here while battling through adversity like Prentiss getting hurt.”
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