The senior guard's bucket with 1.6 remaining Sunday sent Iowa State into the Sweet 16 for the first time in 14 years with an 85-83 win over North Carolina that was as thrilling as it was confusing at the very end.
The game -- punctuated by back-and-forth runs and percolating with 3-pointers down the stretch -- ended with a thud after an official review determined the Tar Heels didn't call a timeout quick enough after inbounding the ball.
The clock didn't start until North Carolina neared midcourt, causing confusion about how much time was left.
Kane scored 24 points and had 10 rebounds to lead the third-seeded Cyclones (28-7), who advanced to face seventh-seeded Connecticut in the East Region semifinals at New York's Madison Square Garden on Friday.
The Big 12 champions have won six in a row -- including Friday's 93-75 victory over North Carolina Central, when standout forward Georges Niang was lost for the season with a broken bone in his foot.
Iowa State pulled together without Niang, getting 19 points from Melvin Ejim, 14 from Dustin Hogue, 13 from Monte Morris and 12 from Naz Long, whose barrage of 3-pointers down the stretch sparked a Cyclones run after it looked like the Tar Heels had taken control.
Marcus Paige had 19 points and Leslie McDonald scored 18 to lead the Tar Heels (24-10), whose roller-coaster season ended, perhaps fittingly, with a back- and-forth thriller.
Paige's 3-pointer gave the Tar Heels a 66-60 lead, capping a 10-0 burst that was part of a bigger 14-2 tear for a 70-62 lead with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
Long's second 3-pointer in the span of three possessions sparked an 8-0 Iowa State run that tied the game with 2:03 remaining. Morris also knocked down a three in the spurt and Ejim capped it with a layup.
McDonald's 3-pointer from the left side put out the fire for the Tar Heels, who had an 81-78 lead before Long hit another three from the left side to tie it.
Iowa State then took the lead when Ejim found Kane with a long outlet pass for a fastbreak layup after Paige turned it over. That came with 27.9 seconds left and James Michael McAdoo tied the score for UNC on two free throws with 15.7 ticks left.
Kane beat Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto off the dribble near the right elbow on the way to his winning shot.
It finally moved the Cyclones past the third round of the NCAA Tournament after back-to-back losses there. Last season's exit was cruel -- on Aaron Craft's game-winning 3-pointer for Ohio State.
Their last trip to the Sweet 16 came in 2000 under Larry Eustachy.
McAdoo had one point at halftime and finished with 14 for the Tar Heels, who escaped for a 79-77 win over Big East champ Providence on Friday in its NCAA opener.
North Carolina was seeking to extend its record of 32 appearances in the NCAA Tournament's regional semifinals.
The Tar Heels were up-and-down all season. In the span of just over a month between Nov. 17 and Dec. 18, they lost to Belmont, UAB and unranked Texas but also knocked off the No. 1, No. 3 and No. 11 teams in the country in Michigan State, Louisville and Kentucky.
They opened ACC play by losing their first three games to Wake Forest, Miami and Syracuse but later ripped off a 12-game winning streak that vaulted them to No. 14 in the country before losses to Duke in the regular-season finale and Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament.
The Tar Heels scored 11 of the last 16 points in the first half -- Kennedy Meeks had five of his 15 in it -- to cut Iowa State's lead to 40-37 at the break.