Kansas State nearly rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit, closing to within one point with 42.7 seconds remaining, before No. 13/13 Texas iced it from the free throw line with 6 consecutive makes in an 80-77 win on Tuesday night in front of a limited capacity crowd of 752 at Bramlage Coliseum.
In game where both teams connected on exactly 51 percent (26-of-51) of their field goals, it was Texas’ shooting from 3-point range that proved to be difference. The Longhorns (12-5, 6-4 Big 12) hit on exactly 50 percent of its 26 attempts from long range, including 66.7 percent (8-of-12) in an impressive first-half shooting display, compared to 41.7 percent (9-of-23) for the Wildcats.
Junior Andrew Jones led all scorers with 24 points and was one of four Longhorns in double figures and one of five with at least one 3-pointer. Jones connected on 8-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Freshman Greg Brown knocked down four more triples to finish with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 7 rebounds. Junior Courtney Ramey and senior Matt Coleman III added 14 and 10 points, respectively, and combined for 12 of the Longhorns’ 16 assists.
The loss spoiled perhaps the best offensive effort of the season for the young Wildcats (5-16, 1-11 Big 12), which started three true freshmen (Davion Bradford, Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack) for the 10th time, including the seventh in Big 12 play, and saw 4 rookies combine to play over 100 minutes. The 77 points marked a season-high, while it was the second-highest field goal percentage and the highest in Big 12 play.
Pack and senior Mike McGuirl combined for more than half (40) of K-State’s point total on 44.4 percent (12-of-27) shooting, including 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from 3-point range. Pack recorded his second 20-point outing in his last 4 games with 22 points on 7-of-14 field goals, while McGuirl added 18 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Bradford and sophomore Antonio Gordon chipped in 9 and 8 points, respectively, while Gordon had a game-tying 9 rebounds.
Down 62-45 after a free throw by sophomore Kai Jones with 13:07 to play, the Wildcats started the rally with a 3-point field goal from Pack, who scored 12 of his team-high 22 points in the second half. K-State would score 19 of the next 25 points to close to within 68-64 at the final media timeout at the 3:57 mark.
After an exchange of possessions, including a 3-point miss from McGuirl, Brown buried his fourth triple of the game to give the Longhorns a little more breathing room at 71-64 with 3 minutes to play. The Wildcats didn’t stop clawing back, closing to within 74-73 with 42.7 seconds left on 2 free throws by Pack and a 3-pointer by McGuirl.
However, that would be the closest they would get, as Jones started a stretch of 6 consecutive makes from the free throw line with a pair with 20 seconds followed 4 in a row by Coleman to end the game.
The win gave the Longhorns a sweep of the season series for the second consecutive season.
K-State played without sophomore starter DaJuan Gordon for the third consecutive game. He is the eighth player to miss at least one game this season.
The Wildcats have now lost 11 in a row, including 10 in Big 12 play.