What started as a close but ugly slugfest between Texas and Kansas State to open Big 12 conference play ended up an ugly 67-47 Longhorn blowout on the Wildcats’ home floor.
Kamau Stokes was a late scratch from the line-up, apparently the result of aggravating his foot or ankle injury. Dean Wade is still sitting out with his foot injury, as well. Neither can get back a moment too soon.
K-State (10-3, 0-1 Big 12) held Texas (9-4, 1-0) to 25 first-half points on 9-25 shooting, yet still trailed for most of the half. But, when Cartier Diarra stole the ball late and finished the period with a dunk to pull the Cats within 3, it appeared as if momentum may have swung in the home team’s favor.
Out of the locker room and on the back of continued solid defensive play, K-State seemed to ride that confidence, taking a 31-29 lead with 14:42 remaining. The margin hovered between two points and five points from then until the 7:49 mark, when a Jaxson Hayes dunk put Texas up 45-38 and ignited an enormous 24-9 run by the ‘Horns to seal the game.
K-State scored only six points in the final 6:35 of the contest. The team suffered droughts of 4:48 (first half) and 3:41 (second half) without scoring. After the under-8 media time-out, the defense failed to get out on shooters, and Jase Febres, who scored 23 points on 8-10 (7-9) shooting, made the Cats pay.
Makol Mawien led K-State with 13 points, but made only 5-of-13 shots and could not do anything offensively when the longer, more athletic Hayes was in the game. Xavier Sneed scored 9, Barry Brown had 8, all in the second half, and Diarra and Sean Neal-Williams each added six points for the Wildcats. Texas is good defensively, but 47 points—at home—is just not good enough against anyone.
It’s only one game, right? Still, only the deepest purple glasses would see much reason for optimism after this performance. K-State played hard until fatigue set in, then allowed too many open looks from outside and paid the price. Meanwhile, the season-long struggle to score continued for the Wildcats.
Texas is widely considered a lower-half team in the Big 12. Yes, K-State had 2,000 career points on the bench due to injury. Nothing can be done about that. Unless multiple players take an enormous (and, frankly, unlikely) step up, getting run by double-digits on the home floor at the hands of an afterthought team like Texas may be a harbinger of a disappointing season, if not a complete collapse.
Let’s hope these guys can pull it together and prove that pessimistic prognostication wrong.