ANALYSIS: Junior guard Cartier Diarra leads K-State in final game of the decade

Junior guard Cartier Diarra prepares for a free throw during the men's basketball game against Alabama State in Bramlage Coliseum on Dec. 11, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Hornets with a final score of 86-41. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Following a Kansas State timeout, junior guard Cartier Diarra nailed a go-ahead three, with a hand in his face to put the Wildcats up 69-66 with seconds to play in Sunday’s game over Tulsa.

Diarra led all scorers with a career-high 25 points, 16 coming in the first half. He also had five rebounds and seven assists.

K-State senior forward Xavier Sneed was the second Wildcat in double figures, contributing 18 points and six rebounds.

The Wildcats ended a two-game losing streak.

The energy from the Tulsa Golden Hurricane was apparent in the first half as they got out to an early 16-3 lead over the Wildcats.

“Really proud of how our kids fought,” Tulsa head coach Frank Haith said.

Junior Tulsa guard Darien Jackson had six first points, which were a spark for his team.

The Wildcats managed to go 1-10 from the field in this stretch, struggling to get any production early. A Diarra three with 10:12 left in the first half was the momentum shift the Cats needed.

Soon after, the Wildcats cut the lead to one, trailing the Golden Hurricane 27-26.

K-State took their first lead of the first half at the 3:27 mark. Despite a six-point deficit going into the half, the Golden Hurricane stayed competitive the rest of the contest with balanced scoring across the board.

Tulsa’s bench outscored K-State’s bench 24-7. Jackson led the Golden Hurricane bench with 10 points in 18 minutes of play.

The Wildcats made 11 three-point shots, attributing to nearly half of their points on the night.

Wildcat freshman forward Montavious Murphy was inserted back into the starting lineup tonight, replacing freshman forward Antonio Gordon who was out with the flu, head coach Bruce Weber said.

K-State closes non-conference play tonight, finishing with a 7-5 record. The Wildcats open up conference play at noon on Jan. 4, as they travel down south to Norman, Oklahoma to battle the Oklahoma Sooners.