Defense pushes Wildcats to fourth-straight win over TCU

Senior Barry Brown Jr., senior Dean Wade and sophomore Levi Stockard III celebrate Wade's lay-up. The Wildcats won against the Horned Frogs 65-55 at Bramlage Coliseum, Jan. 19, 2019. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team has extended their win streak to four games after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 65-55 Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.

Statistically, the Horned Frogs came into this game with the best offense in the Big 12. Despite this, the Kansas State defense shut them down keeping TCU below 50 points until the last four minutes of the game.

“We knew going into the game [K-State] was a good defensive team,” TCU junior forward Desmond Bane said. “We didn’t execute our game plan. Give them credit, they’re a good defensive team.”

The Wildcats started the game with a strong momentum as they jumped out to an 11-3 lead on the Horned Frogs at the under-16 timeout. This is a stark contrast compared to the slow-starts that have plagued the team so far this season.

“We came out with really good emotion,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “If you think about it that’s the difference in the game.”

After the hot start from the Wildcats, the Horned Frogs fought back and got the lead down to just one point 20-21 at the 10-minute mark in the first half.

K-State was able to extend the lead to separate themselves until the TCU cut the lead once again to just one point at the 4:11 mark in the first half.

Near the end of the first half, senior forward Dean Wade converted a three-point play and sophomore guard Mike McGuirl had the opportunity for a three-point play to give the Wildcats space from the Horned Frogs heading into halftime with a 37-30 lead.

Junior forward Xavier Sneed leaps up towards the basket for a layup during K-State's game against TCU in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 19, 2019. The Wildcats took the Horned Frogs 65-55. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Both teams were just about even when it came to shooting the ball in the first half. K-State shot 46.4 percent in field goals and the Horned Frogs were just under them at 44.4 percent.

In the second half, junior forward Xavier Sneed got the Wildcats going converting two monster slams on alley-oops. His second slam sent the crowd at Bramlage into a roar as the Horned Frogs called a timeout.

Bruce Weber praised Sneed for the alley-oops.

“Those are excitement plays and momentum plays,” he said. “You get that momentum swing that wears teams down and then you get that four to six point run which is the difference in the game.”

The Horned Frogs were able to keep the game within 10 points of the Wildcats, holding on to still a glimmer of hope in the second half, but were ultimately unable to follow through with any big moves to catch up to the Wildcats. TCU trailed the entire 40 minutes of the game.

K-State’s defense was too much for TCU to handle in the second half, forcing the Horned Frogs into 10 turnovers which resulted in eight points for the Wildcats.

In total, the Horned Frogs committed 18 turnovers, resulting in 21 points for the Wildcats, a vital part of the Wildcats’ game against a good offensive opponent in TCU.

After an 0-2 start in conference play followed by four straight wins, the Wildcats have a chance to take first place in Big 12 conference play if they beat Texas Tech Tuesday night.

Sophomore Levi Stockard III and senior Barry Brown Jr., block Texas Horned Frog player senior Alex Robinson who is attempting to make a layup. The Wildcats won against TCU at Bramlage Coliseum 65-55 on Jan. 19, 2019. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

“We knew we’re a good team,” Wade said. “It was just a matter of time for us to show it. We’re hitting our stride and everyone is playing great basketball. These past four games we have come out and played like we know how we can play.”

The game against Texas Tech will tip-off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday and will be televised on ESPN2 and can be listened to on the K-State Sports Network.