Wildcats drop heartbreaker on Valentine’s Day


There was no love-loss felt Saturday afternoon as the K-State men’s basketball team hosted the No. 16 Kansas Jayhawks in Bramlage Coliseum on Valentine’s Day.

K-State (17-8, 6-5 Big 12 Conference) led by as many as 16 points in the first half but KU (20-5, 9-1 Big 12) eventually battled back and defeated the Wildcats 85-74.

The first half started at a very upbeat tempo, with both teams trading baskets. Two free throws made by sophomore guard Jacob Pullen gave K-State a 12-11 lead with 15:34 left in the first half.

The Wildcats used the momentum of gaining the lead to go on an 18-3 run to amount a 30-14 lead. Junior guard Denis Clemente lead the charge for the Wildcats, scoring 11 points during the run. Clemente scored 18 total points in the first half.

At this point, the Jayhawks looked like they were down for the count, but K-State’s offense ended up going stagnant, allowing KU to go on a 24-8 run to tie the game at 38-38 with 1:41 left in the half.

“Early in the game, our defense created a lot of fastbreak opportunities,” Pullen said. “We had them scrambling a lot in the first half. They got several points in a row, which allowed them to get back and set their defense and we weren’t able to get the shots we wanted.”

K-State scored five straight points to take the lead back, but a Brady Morningstar 3-pointer at the buzzer brought the score to 43-42 at halftime.

“We went on our run and you know a good team like Kansas is going to make their run eventually,” senior forward Darren Kent said. “We stayed positive and we knew that if we played hard and executed offensively, we would give ourselves a chance at the end.”

Kansas came out after halftime and continued their offensive success over K-State’s defense. KU recaptured the lead at 50-49 on a Marcus Morris free throw with 14:39 left in the second half.

It was a lead the Jayhawks would never relinquish.

K-State trailed by as many as 11 in the second half and came as close as one point to the Jayhawks after Pullen connected on a free throw after he was fouled on a 3-pointer.

Sophomore forward Cole Aldrich and junior guard Sherron Collins led KU; both scored double-digits points in the second half, and ended the game with 21 and 19 points respectively.

Brady Morningstar was another big contributor to the Jayhawk offense, scoring 12 points on 4-4 shooting from behind the 3-point line.

As a team the Jayhawks hit 56.8 percent of their shots, including 66.7 percent from 3-point land.

“Give them credit,” head coach Frank Martin said. “I never like to take away from the other team when the other team plays well and makes shots.”

Once again Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen, who scored 26 and 22 points, respectively, led the Wildcats offensively. Before Saturday, K-State was 11-0 when both Clemente and Pullen scored double-digit points.

“A loss is a loss,” Pullen said. “As competitive of a team as we are, as much as we want to win, it’s tough to lose. We’ve got to get over it and move on and get ready for the next game.”

Next up for the Wildcats will be the North Carolina Central Eagles at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Bramlage Coliseum.