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Keshon Gilbert's big night leads No. 7 Iowa State past No. 14 Baylor 76-62 in Big 12 semifinals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Tamin Lipsey grew up in the shadows of Iowa State, always dreaming of playing for the Cyclones, and he has vivid memories of watching his favorite team on television as it captured Big 12 Tournament championships.

Two of them under Fred Hoiberg. Two more under Steve Prohm.

Now, the Iowa native has a chance to lead Iowa State to another one under T.J. Otzelberger.

Keshon Gilbert had 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and Lipsey joined Curtis Jones and Hason Ward in a supporting role as the seventh-ranked Cyclones beat No. 14 Baylor 76-62 in the semifinals on Friday night.

Next up for Iowa State is No. 1 Houston, which rolled to an 82-59 victory over No. 25 Texas Tech in the first semifinal, on Saturday night as the Cyclones chase their fifth title in the last 10 completed conference tournaments.

“Surprisingly I was never able to make it down for a game. I was always watching on TV,” Lipsey said. “I grew up a fan my whole life, and now doing it in my time, it's kind of surreal. But I'm here with my teammates, having a great time, and now we're in the championship. There's so much excitement. The fans are totally behind us. It's ‘Hilton South,’ that's what we call it.”

Jones finished with 13 points and Lipsey and Ward had 10 apiece for the Cyclones (26-7), who went on a 17-3 run to start the second half and led by as many as 22 points before keeping the Bears at distance the rest of the way.

It was the second straight year that the Cyclones knocked Baylor out of a tournament it has never won.

“They really played well, really shot it well,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose own team went just 5 of 24 from beyond the 3-point arc. “Some of that is on our defense. Some of that is credit deserved to them.”

Jalen Bridges had 20 points and 12 rebounds while Yves Missi had 14 points and 11 boards for the Bears (23-10), who had won seven of their last 10 against the Cyclones. Big 12 Freshman of the Year Ja'Kobe Walter had just three points on 1-for-8 shooting.

"It’s win-or-go-home time and I don’t want to go home,” Bridges said.

Iowa State tends to take over T-Mobile Center during the Big 12 Tournament, turning it into a slightly newer, slightly glitzier version of Hilton Coliseum, and that was the case again for its semifinal against Baylor.

From the moment Milan Momcilovic drilled an opening 3-pointer, those thousands of red-clad fans rarely sat down.

The Cyclones proceeded to dominate most of the opening half, at one point going on a 13-2 run to build a comfortable lead, though Bridges did everything he could to keep Baylor in the game. He hit a trio of 3s and had 12 points at halftime, otherwise the Bears would have faced an even steeper climb than the 35-27 hole staring them down at the break.

Iowa State never gave them a chance, though.

Their brilliant ball movement kept producing easy layups. Momcilovic, Gilbert and Jones buried 3-pointers. And in a tournament filled with blowouts, the Cyclones used their big run out of the locker room to deliver yet another semifinal knockout.

It earned them a date with top-ranked Houston in the finals, too.

“We know how great they are defensively, and like we try to do, turn their defense into offense,” Otzelberger said. “We just have to keep our focus on the next play in front of us. You play great teams, you're going to have adversity. And we practice facing adversity so we can meet it head-on.”

UP NEXT

Baylor likely clinched a No. 3 seed for the NCAA Tournament with its trip to the Big 12 tourney semifinals.

Iowa State will try to keep its perfect record intact as the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. The Cyclones are 5-0 with the seed, including their three wins on the way to the 2005 championship.

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