After losing two straight games on the road, a game in the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum against TCU sounded like it was exactly what the Kansas State men’s basketball team needed. But the Wildcats squandered a late lead in regulation and TCU dominated the overtime to hand K-State an 86-80 loss.
The Wildcats fall to 15-7 and 4-5 in the Big 12 with the loss. It is the third straight loss for K-State who really needed the win with their next three games coming against Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia.
“You have to get stops down the stretch, you have to make free throws, you have to block-out on free throws and we did not do any of those,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “It is disappointing for our guys and we had our chances.”
K-State’s start was similar to those of the last two games when they started off slow and accrued a deficit too big to overcome. TCU pulled ahead 29-14 at one point in the first half largely because of a 16-4 run. K-State turned the ball over six times during that span allowing TCU easy baskets off turnovers.
Just when it looked like TCU might pull away and go into the half with a big lead, K-State responded. After the Wildcats went down 29-14 they would end the half on a 24-6 run to go into the break with a 39-35 lead. Senior forward D.J. Johnson and freshman guard Xavier Sneed sparked the Wildcats run.
Johnson finished the first half with 13 points on a perfect 6-6 from the field. Sneed came off the bench with energy, he scored eight points in the half, including two threes.
“They scored very easy early,” Weber said. “(Head coach Jamie Dixon) gets mad at their big kid and puts in (Karviar) Shepherd, who gets eight in the first few minutes. To our guys’ credit, we picked up the aggressiveness, disrupted them and got the lead at the end of the half.”
K-State was not able to carry their first half momentum into the second half. The Wildcats were just 3 of 12 from the field midway through the first half. The score went back-and-forth for much of the second half, with both teams struggling to get their offenses going.
Sophomore guard Kamau Stokes was huge in the second half and down the stretch for the Wildcats. Stokes scored 14 in the half including four threes, he finished as the game’s leading scorer with 21 points. Sneed was also big down the stretch hitting some clutch free throws and huge tip-dunk.
But TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky was able to tie up the score at 73-73 and a Stokes shot at the buzzer fell short sending the game into OT.
K-State came out flat in overtime and TCU took advantage. The Horned Frogs gained all the momentum and the Wildcats couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the hoop. A Kenrich Williams three in overtime gave the Horned Frogs a six point lead and essentially sealed the game.
K-State will now try and shift their focus to their next game Saturday against No. 2 Baylor. Weber said the team will need to fight to get a win against Baylor and will need to continue to fight down the homestretch of the season.
“We have nine games left and we have to play our butts off,” Weber said. “We have to keep fighting and that is all that you can do. Believe and fight.”