MANHATTAN, Kan. – A short-handed Kansas State fought one of the nation’s top-ranked teams down to the end, but No. 14/16 Texas exerted its control with a big 18-2 run to start the second half en route to a 70-57 win in the Wildcats’ Big 12 home opener before 6,833 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Down head coach Bruce Weber and seven players due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the pesky Wildcats (8-5, 0-2 Big 12) with their eight players, including seven on scholarship, looked primed to spark the upset, scoring the game’s first 7 points and leading 35-29 at the half after connecting on 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field, including 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range.
However, it was a different story in the second half, as the nation’s top-ranked defense (51.9 ppg.) held the Wildcats to just 22 points on 22.2 percent (6-of-27) shooting, including 0-of-9 from 3-point range, while the Longhorn offense scored the first 8 points out of halftime en route to an 18-2 run that built a double-digit lead (47-37) with just over 12 minutes to play.
K-State got to within 6 points on 4 occasions down the stretch, including 63-57 after a layup by sophomore Selton Miguel with 2:42 to play. However, the stingy defense would allow any further rally as Texas scored the game’s final 7 points en route to the double-digit victory.
It marked the first time this season that the Wildcats lost when leading at the half (8-0).
Sophomore Nijel Pack collected his fourth career 20-point game with a game-high 21 points, including 15 in the opening half where the Wildcats built as much as a 9-point lead. He finished 6-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, and a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line to go with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. He has now scored 15 or more points in 8 of 10 games played this season.
Miguel added a near double-double with 13 points on 6-of-13 field goals and a game-high 8 rebounds, while fellow sophomore Ish Massoud chipped in 9 points.
The Longhorns (12-2, 2-0 Big 12) got a big night from Utah transfer Timmy Allen, who posted double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while three others (Marcus Carr, Courtney Ramey and Dylan Disu) also scored in double figures, including a game-high 19 by Carr, the transfer from Minnesota.
K-State had 8 available players (Miguel, Pack, Massoud, senior Mike McGuirl, junior Carlton Linguard, Jr., fifth-year senior Mark Smith, senior walk-on Drew Honas and sophomore Luke Kasubke), including 7 scholarship players, for tonight’s game.
In addition to Weber, the Wildcats were without sophomore Davion Bradford, sophomore Jordan Brooks, freshman Maximus Edwards, junior Kaosi Ezeagu, sophomore Trey Harris, freshman Logan Landers and junior Markquis Nowell due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
In Weber’s place, assistant coach Shane Southwell assumed head coaching responsibilities.