On a day that saw three upsets in the Big 12, Kansas State failed to add to the chaos by beating Texas Tech.
The Wildcats lost to the Red Raiders by a final score of 66-47, for their third loss in the last four games.
A tightly contested, low-scoring first half was marked by poor shooting from both teams.
K-State shot 32 percent from the field in the first half, while Texas Tech shot 42 percent. The game was tied at 27 at halftime.
Neither team had a player in double figures in the scoring column during the first half. Junior forward Dean Wade led the Wildcats with nine points on just three-for-eight shooting. Wade also pulled in eight rebounds and blocked one shot.
The Red Raiders were led by senior forward Tommy Hamilton IV with eight points on three-for-four shooting, two of which were three pointers.
K-State started off the game very fast paced as it jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
When the first media timeout of the game came, the Wildcats held an 11-5 lead. They were shooting 67 percent at that point and had held the Red Raiders to a meager 29 percent mark from the field.
One play that highlighted K-State’s early success was a block by James Love III that led to a dunk by Xavier Sneed.
Tech’s Hamilton IV flew in to dunk the ball, and Love III stepped in and swatted him emphatically. The ball bounced right to Sneed, who zoomed to the other end of the court with his eyes set on the rim. He threw it down with no reservation and destroyed the rim, reminiscent of Russell Westbrook.
After getting out to such a big lead in the early going, K-State struggled the rest of the half. The hot shooting performance they started off with quickly faded, and Tech worked its way back into the game.
The Red Raiders didn’t shoot particularly well either, but they got on a slight roll at the perfect time.
Tech stayed in the game by forcing turnovers and making K-State take unwanted shots. K-State also struggled to finish at the rim despite getting decent looks.
Bench points were also a contributor to Tech being able to keep the game close. It outscored K-State 12-2 in that regard. Hamilton dropped in eight of those.
One positive from the opening period was that the Wildcats shot 10-13 at the free-throw line. That mark was far beyond that of the Red Raiders, who were just two-for-five at the line.
K-State also went into the break having outrebounded Tech 22-16.
During the second half, the shooting woes continued for K-State and arguably worsened.
Texas Tech came out firing but K-State was far from doing the same. At the first media timeout of the second half the Wildcats had scored just one point and were down 42-28.
At the under-12-minute timeout, K-State was showing some signs of life. Sneed hit a three to trim the Tech lead to 43-35.
Coming out of the timeout, Wade got an entry pass from Barry Brown and made a strong move through the defense for a layup.
The lead was cut into even further, as the Wildcats trailed only 43-36. That was the closest they would get for the rest of the game, though.
Many things plagued K-State and sealed their fate to lose this game.
The first issue was shooting. Dating back to the game against Georgia on Jan. 27 and counting tonight’s game, the Wildcats have shot less than 40 percent from the field four out of five games.
Tonight’s loss marked the lowest mark during that drought, as the team shot just 28.9 percent.
Bench points also contributed to K-State’s demise and is something that has virtually all season. The Wildcat bench was outperformed to the tune of just seven points compared to 18 for Tech.
While the Wildcats held a rebounding advantage after the first half and even for part of the second, they ultimately lost the battle of the boards, 36-34.
K-State coughed up a whopping 18 turnovers which set a new season high as a team. 11 of those turnovers came in the second half.
Head coach Bruce Weber addressed the bad shooting and lack of scoring saying, “We thought we had some good ideas and concepts to score, but obviously, we didn’t.” He added that turnovers at costly moments did not help.
Despite the bad shooting performance, redshirt freshman guard Cartier Diarra thought the team had good looks but just couldn’t get shots to go in.
Wade was the high man for the Wildcats. He finished with 13 points, and registered his fourth career double-double by hauling in 11 rebounds.
After the game, Wade showed humility saying that he felt like he forced too many shots and kept taking it into the lane even when the Tech defense was there, and that he missed a few passes here and there.
Senior guard Keenan Evans led the way for the Red Raiders. He finished 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Evans, who has been one of the best players in the conference this season, talked about his team being overlooked at the start of the season. “We are Texas Tech in Lubbock. Nobody really talks about us that much. That was not really a factor for us. We knew what we were working for and game by game we are just trying to shock the world.”
The work that Evans and the Red Raiders put in has paid off, as they are now hold a one game lead over Kansas for first place in the Big 12.
K-State is now 17-8 and 6-6 in the Big 12. It has six games remaining in the regular season. It will start to finish that stretch with a trip to Stillwater, Okla. on Wednesday to take on the Cowboys of Oklahoma State University.