clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kansas State rallies twice to top No. 9 Baylor 68-64, keep Tang unbeaten in OT

Arthur Kaluma’s late 4-point play provided the final blow for Kansas State in a game full of struggles offensively for both teams.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Kansas State
Arthur Kaluma’s 4-point play made him the hero in Kansas State’s win over No. 9 Baylor.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State’s overtime magic is becoming more and more difficult to explain with every win, and Tuesday’s game against Baylor only added to the mystique.

In a lot of ways, the Wildcats had no business winning a game in which they trailed by 6 with less than 2 minutes left in regulation and by 5 with 70 seconds left in OT. If Baylor had simply shot 50% from the free throw line or 20% or 15% from 3, it would have been good enough to hand K-State its second home loss of the season.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen as the Cats rallied twice to win 68-64, improving to 10-0 in overtime and 3-0 vs. Scott Drew’s Baylor Bears in Jerome Tang’s tenure. The win also keeps Kansas State in second place, now tied with Baylor, and ready to move back into a tie for first if No. 5 Houston can hold serve at home vs. Texas Tech Wednesday night.

Along with the usual suspects, who we’ll get to in a moment, K-State found some unlikely heroes in a game that saw Cam Carter foul out with 3:04 left in overtime. Freshman RJ Jones drilled a baseline 3 for his first points since December 2 to bring the Cats within 2 at the 1:02 mark and Jerrell Colbert matched a season-high with 17 minutes (his first time in double digits since that same Dec. 2 game vs. North Alabama), contributing 6 points and a block as part of an impressive individual defensive effort against the long, athletic Bears.

Those two helped set the stage for the game’s key moment, when Arthur Kaluma completed a 4-point play with 20 seconds left. Three missed Baylor threes and two Tylor Perry free throws later, fans at Bramlage Coliseum celebrated a Kansas State basketball win over a top 10 team for the second time in three days.

A field goal drought of more than six minutes nearly cost Kansas State in the second half before Tylor Perry brought the Cats back with a steal, an assist and three free throws in the final 80 seconds of regulation. Baylor’s Jayden Nunn missed a wide open 3 for the win, keeping up one of the major themes of the evening.

The Bears also shot 9-of-19 from the free throw line, easily the worst performance of the season for a team that ranks 9th in the Big 12 at nearly 72%. Langston Love netted 15 points to lead Baylor and Jalen Bridges added 11, while they were able to somewhat make up for their poor shooting with 18 second-chance points on 23 offensive rebounds.

Kansas State’s offense began the game by picking up where it left off in Saturday’s brutal 60-59 loss at Lubbock, making it look very difficult to put the ball in the basket. The Cats scored just 5 points in the first 7 minutes thanks to poor shooting and some careless turnovers against a Baylor defense that entered the night ranked 56th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

Fortunately, K-State finally woke up enough to answer the Bears’ 7-0 run with a 9-0 run of their own, capped off by 5 points from Cam Carter. The Wildcats’ top scorer this season once again looked like the most effective weapon on offense, finishing with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting despite some foul trouble that send him to the bench in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Wildcat defense fed off the energy of a lively crowd to hold Baylor’s #4 offense (again, according to KenPom) below its previous season-low of 62 points, prior to overtime. The Bears still mostly held onto the lead in the first half, taking a 31-26 lead into halftime.

Of course, it helped that Baylor shot 5-of-28 from the 3-point line thanks in large part to good perimeter defense, and that was especially prominent early in the second half as the Bears started 0-of-12 from the field. Kansas State couldn’t take full advantage but did manage to take a brief 34-33 lead before Love finally knocked down a 3.

Tylor Perry’s fast break 3 gave Kansas State what turned out to be its last lead for nearly 8 minutes, 45-42 with 8:13 left. It was a familiar story for the flashy point guard, who matched Carter’s team-high 18 points while shooting 3-of-14 from the field and 11-of-12 from the free throw line, although that one miss came at the worst possible time with 14 seconds left.

Kaluma added 12 points for an inconsistent offense in desperate need of more reliable scorers after shooting barely 40% from the field and committing 17 turnovers. Shot selection was fairly questionable all night, but once again Tang’s group found the net at the right moments. That seems like a good sign going forward, last Saturday’s game notwithstanding.

This team hasn’t really looked capable of putting up a lot of points against many Big 12 teams lately (with the notable exception of UCF) so making games ugly and finding ways to win might be their best bet. It’s Bruceketball all over again, I’m afraid. But hey, it’s better than losing.

Next up

Kansas State will stay in Manhattan Saturday to host a reeling Oklahoma State team that got blown out by Kansas in Stillwater Tuesday night. The Cowboys are the only Big 12 program without a win, so this feels like one the Wildcats can’t afford to lose with plenty of tougher games to come.