The Wildcats traveled down to Austin and delivered a beat down of epic proportions to the Texas Longhorns. Keyontae Johnson, Markquis Nowell, and Cam Carter took it to the burnt orange bovines like they were trying to sneak out the back door without paying an exit fee. The ‘Cats started the game strong and didn’t let up until the final whistle.
The first half saw Kansas State break off multiple runs on a befuddled Texas defense. Markquis Nowell opened the scoring with a three and didn’t stop scoring until he staked his claim as the best point guard in the Big 12. The ‘Cats steadily built a lead, with a Keyontae Johnson jump shot at the 15:45 mark pushing the score out to 16-7 Kansas State. Over the next several minutes, Texas couldn’t find the range, while K-State couldn’t miss. Another Nowell 3 at the 9:10 mark further ballooned the lead to 34-19.
The Texas offense clicked into gear around the 9:00 mark, but the K-State offense refused to step off the throttle. Nowell refused to be contained by the Texas defense; when he wasn’t bombing away from deep, he was getting into the lane and either finishing at the basket or kicking out to open shooters. Over a three possession stretch he assisted on both Johnson and Cam Carter 3-pointers, making the lead 49-31 with 4:30 remaining in the half. The ‘Cats would go on to score another nine points before the halftime break, including another five from the best point guard in the nation (at least for tonight). K-State took a commanding 58-40 lead to the locker room.
Texas came out looking to push the pace even faster in the second half in a bid to get back into the game. Texas got the offense they needed, but Wildcats were unstoppable on offense. At the 15 minute TV timeout, despite scoring 15 points in the first five minutes of the half, Texas didn’t cut into the lead. Nae’Qwan Tomlin decided to stunt on every Longhorn defender with slithering drives to the basket that either ended in points or easy buckets for his teammates. He even threw in a dead center 3-pointer off another perfect pass from Nowell.
The Longhorns went supernova on offense over the next five minutes, pouring in another 15 points and putting a dent in the lead. At the 10:00 mark Texas closed the gap to nine points at 79-70 and things went back and forth from there. Whenever it looked like the Longhorns were building momentum, someone for K-State (usually either Nowell, Johnson, or Carter) would pour cold water on them. As soon as Texas closed it to seven points with a little over 7:00 remaining, the ‘Cats went on a 7-3 run featuring a Cam Carter trey. At the 5:30 TV timeout, Kansas State led 96-85, and weren’t even close to done scoring.
Over the last six minutes of action, K-State refused to stop scoring. Nowell went on another personal five point run, effectively icing the game at 103-88 with 2:43 remaining, but the ‘Cats would go on to score another 13 points in a little under three minutes. K-State closed out the game doing what good teams do, putting the ball in their best players’ hands and letting them cash in from the free throw line. In the last two minutes of the game Markquis cashed in eight foul shots and Keyontae chipped in another four, including the last two points of the game, to put 116 points in the Wildcat ledger. The Longhorns managed to break the century mark themselves, hitting 103 points by the end of the night.
Texas, who according to KenPom came into the game with the 14th most efficient defense in the nation, scored 103 points at home and lost by 13 points, and their defensive efficiency rank fell all the way to 39th. I can’t think of a wider margin of victory in a college basketball game where both teams broke 100 points. The Longhorns wanted to turn this game into a track meet, and they did. They just ran into a team with faster runners.
Markquis Nowell led all players in points with 36 and assists with nine, all while committing only one turnover. Keyontae Johnson wasn’t far behind with 28 points and a game leading nine rebounds. Cam Carter provided excellent support, scoring 17 points on nine shots, including a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc. Tomlin, saddled with foul trouble for much of the night, still managed 11 points, and took the game over for a short stretch in the second half when it looked like Texas was making a run. Abayomi Iyiola continued his stellar play on the inside, following up his 14 points against West Virginia with another ten points on 4-5 shooting. Every starter for Kansas State hit double figures.
I watch way too much college basketball, and this may be the best offensive performance against a legit opponent that I’ve seen... maybe ever? 36-59 from the field? Absurd! 13-23 from three? Ridiculous! 31-33 from the line? I’m looking at the box score and the numbers still don’t make any sense. Kansas State went on the road and made a statement tonight against one of the best teams in the Big 12 and the nation. Texas didn’t play poorly. This wasn’t a case of the Longhorns handing Kansas State the game. Texas brought their A+ game on offense and still lost. This wasn’t Texas beating themselves, this was Kansas State beating Texas.
If you didn’t get a chance to see the Wildcats castrate the ‘Horns because your cable package doesn’t include the Longhorn Network, I highly recommend finding a way to watch the replay. Putting up 116 points on Texas, in Austin, on their own network is as close to basketball nirvana as a Big 12 team can achieve.