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Final: Texas 70, Kansas State 57

After a promising start, second half doldrums doom shorthanded K-State.

NCAA Basketball: McNeese State at Kansas State
COVID not only sidelined players Tuesday night.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State, playing with only 8 players in uniform and without Coach Bruce Weber on the bench due to COVID protocols, led by nine points early, only to see No. 14 Texas ride a huge run after halftime to take the lead and pull away for a 70-57 win over the Wildcats.

Shane Southwell took on head coaching duties in the absence of Coach Weber, and for the first 20 minutes, the team made him look like a genius. Ismael Massoud opened the game with a three-pointer. Mark Smith hit a driving lay-up, and NiJel Pack knocked down a step-back jumper to stake the shorthanded Cats to a 7-0 lead. When Selton Miguel made a lay-up with 6:33 to play in the first half, K-State (8-5, 0-2 Big 12) held a 9-point advantage, 25-16.

When Pack buried a three-pointer to send the Cats to the locker room holding a 36-25 advantage, they and the sparse bowl-game-day crowd had every reason to believe K-State could win the game. Pack had 15 points at the break.

Fast starts have not been a hallmark of this year’s K-State team. They got one against Texas. But (as has been a more occasional problem) the Wildcats started woefully out of the locker room, while Texas scorers Courtney Ramey, Timmy Allen and Marcus Carr all heated up. The Wildcats were scoreless for the first five minutes, and by the first media timeout, the game was tied. After the teams traded buckets to set the score at 37-37, K-State would go scoreless for nearly three more minutes, allowing Texas to build a lead it would never relinquish.

Over the first ten-plus minutes of the second half, Texas outscored K-State 22-6 to change a 6-point halftime deficit for the Longhorns into a 51-41 lead. The Cats looked gassed, and the game appeared to be out of reach. Selton Miguel twice put them back within six. The last occasion was at the 2:42 mark, when he drove through traffic to narrow the score to 63-57. But K-State did not score again—a final drought that sank any chance of an upset win.

After his big first half, Pack added six more points to finish with a game-high 21. Miguel added 13, and Massoud finished with 9. Off his huge performance at Oklahoma, Mark Smith was a focal point of the Texas defense and managed only 6 points on a 3-9 shooting performance.

Carr had 19, Allen 17, Ramey 14 and Dylyn Disu 10 to pace the Longhorn scoring attack.

K-State will see how many healthy bodies are available to travel to West Virginia for a scheduled 1:00 p.m. tipoff on Saturday.