After easily building an 11-point lead to start the game over Texas Southern Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum, K-State saw their lead slowly chip away, culminating in the second half with the Tigers building a seven-point lead en route to a stunning 58-56 defeat.
To add insult to injury for the Wildcats (7-5), they did regain the lead in the waning minutes of the contest, only to have issues at the free throw line take away their chance for a victory.
Leading by four points with just over a minute remaining in the game, K-State went two for eight from the charity stripe, allowing the Tigers (3-9) to remain close enough to take advantage of their mistakes in the final moments.
The game came down to the final 3.8 seconds. After sophomore guard Jevon Thomas fouled junior forward Tonnie Collier during a three-point try, Collier made his first two free throws before purposely missing his third attempt. The rebound fell into the hands of Texas Southern’s Chris Thomas for an easy layup underneath the basket to tie the game.
With 0:00.9 seconds on the clock at that point, K-State threw the ball away on the ensuing in-bounds play, giving the Tigers the ball back underneath their own basket. That left Texas Southern with enough time for senior forward Jason Carter to sink a quick catch-and-shoot attempt near the buck to seal his team’s second big road win of the season.
“We fought and had the game won, but some crazy things happened at the end,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said after the game. “We should have just gotten the ball in bounds and gone into overtime at home and see what would happen.”
K-State’s troubles revolved around their inability to take advantage of nearly two-dozen opportunities from the free-throw line. The Wildcats went eight for 20 from the charity stripe overall, including missing 11 of their last 16 opportunities — all in the last 10 minutes of the game.
“We did not have any energy [for the free throws], that is where we lost it,” senior forward Thomas Gipson said. “I am pretty sure if people had energy, they would step up and make their free throws with confidence.”
Not only did the Wildcats have issues with free-throw shooting, but they also lost the rebounding battle. This was especially true on the offensive glass, having only four rebounds to Texas Southern’s 11, leading to 12 second-chance points for the Tigers.
“The rebounding was the worst (stat of the day),” Weber said. “Our rebounding effort has to get better, Thomas (Gibson) has to give us more than that, Marcus (Foster) has zero (rebounds) and plays 33 minutes. We have to get to crashing the boards and take away some opportunities for the other team.”
After starting the game with an impressive 9-0 advantage, turnovers began plaguing the Wildcats on offense in the first half. In the last 10 minutes of the opening period, the Tigers went on a 16-8 run to pull within two-points at the halftime break.
Texas Southern’s surge early in the second half was due in large part to forcing turnovers. That led to improved shooting for the Tigers, as they went shot seven for 13 from the field during a run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
The Wildcats were led in scoring by sophomore guard Marcus Foster’s 17 points. Senior forward Nino Williams was the only other Wildcat in double digits, scoring 11 points. This loss marked first time the Wildcats have lost to a SWAC opponent (8-1 all-time).