It was the final countdown. With only three games remaining in the season now, the Kansas State men’s basketball team was under pressure to showcase their worthiness of being an NCAA Tournament team.
On Wednesday, the Wildcats hosted the Texas Longhorns at home in Bramlage Coliseum, where K-State won 58-48. The Wildcats are now 20-8 overall, 8-6 in the Big 12.
In the first half, the game was struggling to get a steady rhythm on both sides. Both K-State and Texas displayed a lot of holes in their game play and ended the first half tied up at 25.
At the half, freshman Cartier Diarra led the Wildcats with 8 points, while Dylan Osetkowski led the Longhorns with 7. K-State ended the first half shooting 8-28 from the field (28.6 percent)and 2-8 (25 percent) from the three-point. Texas was 10-24 (41.7 percent) from the field, 1-6 (16.7 percent) from the three-point. Overall, it was a rocky start to land shots in the bucket.
As the second half started, the Wildcats started to play with some tempo and getting back into rhythm. When 10 minutes left in the clock struck, the Wildcats led the Longhorns, 35-34, making it a neck-and-neck game.
At some point in the game, there was no definite answer of who would be winning this matchup and how. With less than optimal starts and interesting transitions, it was no surprise to anyone why the final score was so low.
The second half only brought 33 points for the Wildcats. Texas only got 23 points up on the board in the second half, keeping the game a low scorer.
In the last six minutes of the second half, Texas began relying on foul calls to get points. This worked their way for a minute, as it brought them up to a tie 40. K-State soon broke the tie, Texas came back and tied it back up at 42.
After a few rough penalties on the Wildcats, they were able to bring up their lead and win the game. Historically, K-State has been 7-5 against Texas, 3-2 at home. Now, the Wildcats are 8-5 against Texas, 4-2 at home. In the last three games before Wednesday’s win, K-State had beat Texas by three points every time. The game broke history with a win over Texas four straight times, and increasing the deficit by seven.
K-State had just made more history, as the K-State success was the 29th 20-win season in school history and the 4th in the last 6 years.
For the last three minutes of the game, Texas was without their leading perimeter defender, junior Kerwin Roach. Roach ended the game with seven points, four rebounds and two assists. With a big loss for the Longhorns, K-State took control of the game.
With the help of Sneed and Brown, K-State sealed the win, 58-48. Brown led the Wildcats with a total of 16 points and four rebounds. Dean Wade followed with 13 points, and Cartier Diarra with 12 points.
At the end of the game, K-State shot 20-48 (41.7 percent) from the field and 3-13 (23.1 percent) overall. Texas ended up shooting 16-56 (28.6 percent) from the field and 2-18 (11.1 percent) from the three-point overall.
Wednesday’s lead changed 11 times. The score was tied a total of nine times. K-State’s bench only provided six points, while Texas’ provided a total of eight points.
K-State ended with 30 points in the paint, six second chance opportunities and eight fast break points.
In the last few minutes of the game, Brown attacked the rim relentlessly. Texas head coach Shaka Smart acknowledged this, praising Brown on his last-minute takeover
“He was great down the stretch our guys were on him for about 35 minutes,” Smart said. “At the end of the game, it didn’t matter that he hadn’t put up big numbers to that point. He said ‘I’m going to go make a play for my team.'”
K-State ended up out-rebounding Texas, 39-36, and Smart made it seem like it was a thing he saw coming.
“The rebound by Sneed was a big play,” Smart said. “They got some timely offensive rebounds. The reason they got so many defensive rebounds is because we missed a lot.”
Head coach Bruce Weber talked about what the team and practiced during the past few days, and talked about Brown’s first half.
“He kind of struggled for a while,” Weber said. “We worked on keeping the ball moving for the past two days…we kept telling the guys, ‘you gotta plan for a grind out game.’”
“Down the stretch he did not back down,” Weber said about Brown.
Weber continued to give Brown praise, as he said he was the main reason that Roach got shut down in the game.
Brown talked about his last minute spark, saying his teammates and his coaches were a huge factor.
“My teammates they were telling me to stay confident and stay in attack mode,” Brown said. “Finish the game, finish the possessions…it’s my mindset, my coaches and teammates told me to say aggressive.”
As the season begins to come to a close, Weber said that the team can not be satisfied.
“We can’t be satisfied. We have to get ready for Oklahoma,” Weber said.
After Wednesday’s win, the Wildcats showcased many skills proving that they could be an NCAA Tournament worthy team. Even though they played slow, and at times ugly basketball, the big plays and standout players are what showed the potential to make it big.
The Wildcats still have motivation to finish big and finish strong. As they prepare to travel down to Norman to take on the Oklahoma Sooners, the Wildcats must practice hard and be ready for the next big thing.
The Wildcats and the Sooners will tip-off at 5 p.m. Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma, at Lloyd Noble Center.