After enduring weather-delayed travel woes, the Kansas State Wildcats (7-8, 0-3 Big 12) scrapped their way through the first half of their game against the Texas Longhorns (11-4, 1-2), even exchanging the lead six times. But a last-second Texas three-pointer gave the Horns a four-point halftime lead, and the game would never be close again, as the Wildcats fell 64-50.
By now K-State fans know the question is not if there will be a scoring drought, but when it will come and how long it will last. In this game, it began after halftime and lasted exactly eight minutes. The Wildcats not only failed to score until the 12:00 mark of the second stanza; they failed repeatedly to get a look at the basket before the shot-clock expired. When the Cats did try to hoist shots during that stretch, Texas jumped up (or, alternately, just stood looming over the shooter) and swatted them away. In all, Texas forced five shot-clock violations and blocked nine attempts.
Add it all up, and UT went on a 12-0 run to start the second half. Extend the clock back a little further, and the run was 20-2. There, folks, was your ballgame.
K-State hung tough early by creating turnovers and getting buckets in transition. In the first half, they led Texas 10-0 in fastbreak points. But the Longhorns put a stop to that after halftime, and the half-court offense failed repeatedly to generate clean looks against the length of Texas once Shaka Smart properly motivated them to get aggressive.
It did not help K-State’s cause that at least three times on the evening, Texas managed to barely beat the shot clock for NBA-range three pointers, and two other times made contested jumpers just before the buzzer. Also, UT’s Will Baker, who was 0-for-the-season from outside, banked one home in the second half to blunt the Wildcats’ frantic attempt to get back into the game late.
Not much more worth saying about this one. It looked promising; then it got ugly. K-State was blown out for the first time this season, and it came in a game that—for a while—looked imminently winnable.
Cartier Diarra was the only Wildcat in double-figures, with 14. DaJuan Gordon again hustled and scrapped, and finished with nine points. He and Montavious Murphy tied for the team lead with five rebounds each. Xavier Sneed was off the mark, making only 1-of-8 from the floor and finishing with five points. He also took a nasty spill on his tailbone midway through the second half and limped noticeably the rest of the game. The other K-State senior, Makol Mawien, played only ten minutes. He had two points, one rebound, three fouls and two turnovers. Still need more, big fella. Much more.
Matt Coleman III led Texas with 14 points. Courtney Ramey and Jase Febres contributed 11 and 10, respectively.
No “Three in the Key” tonight. The volunteer BOTC staff is made up of fans, and like the rest of you, we’re pouting. The sad summary above will have to do.
It doesn’t get any easier, Cat fans. Texas Tech comes calling Tuesday night at 7:00.