Down two with 20 seconds left in regulation, Kansas made the fatal mistake of going for the tie in the 300th edition of the Sunflower Showdown Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Sure, Bill Self remained undefeated on plays coming out of timeouts. But more importantly, Jerome Tang stayed perfect in overtime thanks to heroic efforts from Tylor Perry and Cam Carter in a 75-70 win over the No. 4 Jayhawks.
Perry tallied 8 of Kansas State’s 11 points in overtime on his way to a game-high 26 points, and Cam Carter recorded a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. They showed no fear attacking the rim all night while the Wildcats defended the basket well on the other side of the court, forcing KU center Hunter Dickinson to take 18 shots to get to his double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Great defense on the 3-point arc held KU to just 3 makes on 15 attempts and the Wildcats’ impressive effort showed up most in a critical +10 rebounding margin. The same Jayhawk team that shot 70% from the field against the nation’s best defense (Houston) two days ago made just 41.2% of its shots, much to the delight of a sellout crowd.
Resilience was the story of the night for the Wildcats, who suffered a disappointing 73-53 home loss to Oklahoma less than a week ago. Arthur Kaluma exemplified that mindset, working hard for 13 points and 8 rebounds despite never finding his shooting touch.
Kansas State’s 11th straight overtime win and second consecutive OT win over the Jayhawks in Manhattan brings a much-needed end to a four-game losing streak, putting the Wildcats back at .500 in conference play. Fans even followed Tang’s suggestion to stay in the stands after the biggest win of the season, and he rewarded them by once again joining students for the postgame Wabash.
K-State got off to an ideal start with a Carter 3 and Jerrell Colbert blocking Dickinson on the game’s first two possessions. Naturally, that didn’t last and Colbert even picked up a flagrant foul for a stupid hook-and-hold while fighting Dickinson for an offensive rebound, but the Cats still managed to keep the game close for a while.
Will McNair got a couple dunks, Dai Dai Ames hit a 3 and the offense actually looked good when they played aggressively while avoiding turnovers, rather than just standing around doing nothing. But KU’s much more consistent ball movement and movement off the ball gave the Jayhawks an advantage.
However, great effort from Kansas State on the boards resulted in an early 13-9 rebounding edge, highlighted by 4 offensive rebounds. Once the Cats tightened things up defensively and stopped allowing easy layups, they went on a 8-2 run over four minutes to take a 23-21 lead.
Perry knocked down a critical 3-pointer following a KU turnover just when it looked like the Jayhawks might pull away near the end of the half, and then the little point guard even went in among the trees to make an acrobatic game-tying layup. It wouldn’t be the last one as Perry looked downright Nowell-esque around the rim, twisting his body and spinning the ball just right every time.
K-State had another chance to fold early in the second half, when KU opened up a 41-30 lead. Instead, two more Perry 3s sparked an 11-0 run to tie the game, capped off by a pair of Cam Carter free throws.
That’s about when things got really ugly, with both teams fighting hard and struggling to get good looks. Carter’s layup to tie the score at 47 with 10:26 left marked the beginning of a 6+ minute scoring drought, but free throws and great defense meant Carter’s 3 to end the drought gave Kansas State a 58-54 lead.
Two careless turnovers gave the Jayhawks back-to-back transition layups for the lead, but Perry answered to tie and Kansas State got bailed out by Kaluma’s offensive rebound to end an otherwise awful offensive possession with 23 seconds left. Then KU out of a timeout made the pick and roll for a KJ Adams dunk look far too easy, and Perry’s off-balance shot to win at the end of regulation wasn’t close.
K-State finished just 41.4% from the field and committed 16 turnovers, a fairly poor overall offensive performance that just makes this win all the more impressive. The fact is when the Cats bring the kind of energy they had on defense and on the glass, they’re capable of competing with anyone.
The biggest challenge for this team so far has been bringing that energy on the road, which is something Kansas can relate to after falling to 1-4 in Big 12 road games with losses to UCF and West Virginia. We’ll see if K-State can figure something out this Saturday at BYU.