As Jameel McKay confidently toed the free throw line, standing a once-daunting 15 feet from the rim, he appeared calm, cool, and poised to apply the ice.
Iowa State’s big man capped a career-crowning night Wednesday with the final two uncontested daggers with seven seconds left as the No. 14 Cyclones surged past No. 22 Oklahoma State 70-65 at Stillwater’s Gallagher-Iba Arena.
McKay, a 6-9 junior, finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes — accomplishing his first career double-double with flair and authority.
“I felt like I was playing hard,” McKay said on the Cyclone Radio Network’s postgame show. “It just came with playing hard.”
McKay hit 13 of 18 free throws after an 8 of 9 performance from the stripe in Saturday’s triumph over No. 21 West Virginia.
He started the season — which, for him, began Dec. 20 — 0-for-6 from the line.
“Honestly, it was just all in my head,” said McKay, who added an astounding nine offensive boards Wednesday while defending Oklahoma State leading scorer Le’Bryan Nash. “My teammates believed that I’m a good shooter. Coach (Fred Hoiberg) saw me make them every day, so it was just about repetition and being confident. Right now I’m a real confident shooter at the line. I look to continue to have success from the free throw line.”
ISU (19-6, 9-4) slammed the door shut on their second Big 12 road win of the season by hitting the Cowboys (17-9, 7-7) with a 9-0 haymaker over the last 2:09.
A foul-troubled Georges Niang started the spurt, spinning into the lane to make the score 65-63.
Dustin Hogue gave the Cyclones the lead for good, grabbing a defensive rebound, running the floor and drilling a corner 3-pointer to give ISU a 66-65 edge.
Niang drove in for another hoop and McKay hit the free throws that sent the Cyclones out of Stillwater with their second straight win after enduring a previously long-standing drought that drifted back to 1988.
“It’s big,” said Cyclone point guard Monté Morris, who hit Hogue for the 3 that gave ISU the lead it wouldn’t relinquish. “I fell like we’ve got or mojo now. Everything’s rolling, clicking. Just positive vibes going on in our locker room and when you’re able to get a road win — you string one, now let’s see if we can go string two. That’s going to be our challenge.”
The Cyclones travel to Texas for Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup with the long, lean and skilled Longhorns (17-9, 6-7), who saw a three-game win streak snapped at Oklahoma.
“It’s a dangerous team,” ISU coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s going to take an unbelievable effort. It’s a tough turnaround. You play at 8 o’clock on the road, you go home for basically a day and a half and then you’ve got to go play at 1 on Saturday. But our guys are pretty pumped up and excited and they’re ready to get back to work tomorrow.”
Hogue scored 14 points while grabbing seven rebounds and Morris added 11 points and five assists. Niang finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes.
ISU outrebounded Oklahoma State 44 to 28 and 18 to 4 on the offensive glass to overcome 39 percent shooting.
“The biggest thing I was looking for this week was how we were going to respond to adversity,” Hoiberg said. “I thought we handled it in a big-time way tonight.”