SAN ANTONIO — Iowa State is beaten up, but the Cyclones are not going away.
Cyclones guard DeAndre Kane went into the lane and threw in a floater off the glass for the winning basket with 1.6 seconds left, sending third-seeded Iowa State past sixth-seeded North Carolina 85-83 on Sunday in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at the AT&T Center.
The Cyclones (28-7) advance to play seventh-seeded Connecticut in the East Regional semifinals on Friday in New York.
Iowa State was playing without sophomore forward Georges Niang, who broke his right foot in the Cyclones’ NCAA opener. Then Kane landed hard on a hip and limped for much of the second half, which he and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg attributed to cramping.
All of that and a fierce North Carolina effort was not enough to stop the Cyclones.
“So proud of our guys for how they went out and approached this game,” Hoiberg said. “We had a tremendous amount of adversity hit us when we lost Georges Niang. Everybody that stepped on the floor for us made a great contribution.”
Iowa State erased North Carolina’s eight-point lead in the final four minutes. Guard Naz Long led the way by hitting three 3-pointers as the Cyclones scored 21 points in the final 5:11 to overtake the Tar Heels.
Kane finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, forward Melvin Ejim added 19 points and Long scored nine of his 12 points down the stretch.
“I’ve got to bring energy off the bench,” Long said. “I have to remind guys let’s stay positive, let’s do what we do. I missed a bunch of open ones early, but I’m just thankful my teammates kept believing in me.”
Ejim came up with a steal and threw a downcourt pass to Kane for a layup and an 83-81 lead with 27 seconds left.
North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo tied it by sinking two free throws with 16 seconds left, setting up the final sequence.
“Coach drew up a great play for me,” Kane said. “I made an acrobatic shot and it went in.”
After Kane’s winning shot, North Carolina attempted to inbound the ball and get past midcourt before calling timeout. However, the officials ruled time expired by the time the timeout was signaled, allowing the Cyclones to celebrate.
“We’re not blaming this on the officials,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “We made some mistakes. We practice all the time in that situation. I was calling timeout; the referees didn’t recognize it. Let’s not anybody lay it on the officials or anything like that.”
Williams expressed admiration for Hoiberg and the Iowa State team, especially the way they handled the loss of Niang. But Williams also indicated he was expecting as much.
“Coach (Dean) Smith used to say he hated to play somebody when they lost one of their best players first game because everybody is going to be emotionally into it,” Williams said. “I knew that they would come out and really play.”
Iowa State led by nine points in the first half and seven in the second half, but the Tar Heels would not let the Cyclones run away with it.
When Iowa State gained a 48-41 advantage with 16:14 left, North Carolina answered with an 11-4 run that included a dunk by forward J.P. Tokoto and a 3-pointer by forward Leslie McDonald to tie it at 52.
The Tar Heels then reeled off a 10-0 run that guard Marcus Paige capped for a 66-60 lead with 8:22 left.
North Carolina, which scored 16 second-chance points and 40 points in the paint, used putbacks by McAdoo and forward Kennedy Meeks to take an eight-point lead with 5:27 to play.
Paige led the Tar Heels (24-10) with 19 points. McDonald scored 18 points, Meeks had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and McAdoo scored 14.
Iowa State’s 10-2 run midway through the first half gave the Cyclones a 35-26 lead with 5:20 left before halftime. Cyclones guard Monte Morris and Ejim ignited the surge with back-to-back 3-pointers.
Iowa State missed an opportunity to extend the run when Morris failed to finish on two straight drives to the basket.
Kane led Iowa State with 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half. North Carolina stayed close behind McDonald, who hit two 3-pointers and scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes.
Iowa State led 40-37 at halftime.
NOTES: North Carolina fell to 3-1 all time against Iowa State. The two programs last met in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2005 with the Tar Heels winning 92-65. North Carolina went on to win the national championship that season. … North Carolina received a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history. On each occasion, the sixth-seeded Tar Heels won their opening game and then lost in the next round, falling to Texas in 2004, Texas Tech in 1996 and Iowa State in 2014. … Iowa State improved to 4-16 all time against teams from the ACC.