The Kansas State men’s basketball team was in search of a morale booster on Tuesday night, facing the TCU Horned Frogs.
Coming off a tough 86-77 loss at the hands of the University of Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, the Wildcats needed a win to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
A second game in a row on the road proved to be too much for them though, as they failed to sweep TCU, losing by a score of 66-59.
The loss was characterized by turnovers, inconsistent defense and underwhelming shooting.
TCU jumped out to a 12-7 lead in the first five and a half minutes of the game.
During that span, K-State could not get shots to fall despite many open opportunities and good shot selection.
Early on in the game, there was hot shooting from TCU. The Horned Frogs started the game with the hot hand and, even when they were missing, found a way to put the ball in the hoop.
The Wildcats also allowed a few easy drives to the basket that hindered their success.
As the first half went on, the Wildcats were stepping up their defense and started getting a few turnovers. With 7:45 left in first half, they found themselves down just 24-20.
While time ticked away and halftime neared, both teams were countering the others’ punches. K-State climbed up to multiple-possession leads, but TCU hit a series of unanswered buckets to tie it up or regain the lead.
Sloppy play marked the end of the first period, marked by several turnovers by both teams.
At one point, the Wildcats turned the ball over, and TCU coughed it back up just past half court, then K-State had an alley-oop blocked but saved by a put-back layup.
When the end of the first half came, the Wildcats found themselves trailing by four points, 33-29.
For the early going of the second half, sloppy play from both teams again ensued.
K-State persevered through it, suddenly found themselves leading 36-35 thanks to a 7-2 run in the first two and a half minutes of the second half.
With 14:14 in the second period, the Wildcats led 44-39. After that, the Horned Frogs stormed back to take the lead, and from that point on, the game was-back and-forth with multiple ties and lead changes.
It remained a tight, tick-for-tack game until just under two minutes to go. That was when TCU gained a stranglehold on the game and virtually sealed the victory.
With 1:49 remaining, senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky cashed in a three-pointer to extend the Horned Frogs’ lead to 60-56. They would finish the game on a 10-3 run, sealing their 21st victory of the season.
While the Wildcats finished with a better field goal percentage than the Horned Frogs — 47.2 percent for K-State and 44.2 percent for TCU — less-than-impressive shooting was again a factor for a Wildcat loss.
K-State was out-rebounded 35-30, and 12-6 on the offensive boards. A total of 19 team turnovers also limited the Wildcats’ offensive efforts.
Something is to be said of the fact that there was quite the discrepancy at the free-throw line. The Wildcats shot five for eight from the stripe, while the Horned Frogs went 15 for 26.
Junior forward Dean Wade was the high scorer for the Wildcats. Wade finished with 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting.
His last points came on a pair of free throws around the five minute mark. In the final five minutes of the game, Wade did not shoot a single shot.
Statistics aside, K-State must figure out what they can fix, as they have just one regular season game left.
On Saturday, the Baylor Bears will come to Manhattan. Baylor has won six of their last eight games.
K-State is now 20-10 overall and 9-8 against Big 12 foes. Its foothold to get into the NCAA Tournament is slipping with two losses in a row, so closing out the regular season with a win is crucial.