Junior guard Cartier Diarra hit a crucial three in the final seconds to defeat Tulsa 69-67 as the men’s basketball team wrapped up non-conference play.
“I came off the ball screen, and he was just there. I just went to, I say, one of my shots that coach doesn’t like,” Diarra said.
It was the final game of the decade for Kansas State, complete with a thriller finish as the Wildcats defeated the Golden Hurricanes despite struggles with momentum.
The Wildcats dropped several close games this season, including a three-point loss to St. Louis in Kansas City. After the game, head Bruce Weber talked about what needs to happen in clutch moments.
“You need somebody to deliver and make a play,” Weber said. “I kept talking to the coaches, what do I need to run, what can we run, but some of it is, players need to make plays. [Cartier] made a play today, so now hopefully he’ll take a step.”
Entering the matchup, the Golden Hurricane had a 7-1 all-time record against the Wildcats, including the last two in 2017 and 2018.
The Wildcats started to game going 0-7 from the floor in the first five minutes. The Golden Hurricane jumped out to a 16-3 lead with a 14-2 run in a span of four minutes.
Tulsa went into a zone defense, but the Wildcats took full advantage of it to make a comeback.
The Wildcats cut the deficit in half with threes by senior forward Xavier Sneed and Diarra, mounting an early comeback to trail 27-26 on an 8-0 run late in the first half.
K-State took the lead for the first time in the final three minutes of the half.
The Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to head into half leading 40-34 led by 16 points from Diarra. Diarra finished the half shooting 5-9 from the floor, including 5-7 from three.
Junior guard Brandon Rachal led Tulsa with nine with two assists, which also led the Golden Hurricane.
Despite shooting 39 percent from the floor, K-State shot 40 percent from three to keep K-State in the game at the half.
Tulsa regained the lead with a 12-2 run early in the second half, but that was short-lived as the Wildcat mounted another comeback to stay in the game.
K-State continued to hit crucial threes, but none were more critical than the three by Diarra. The Wildcats would hold off a late drive with a block by senior forward Makol Mawien to hang on.
Diarra talked about the crucial stop by the K-State big man.
“Makol made a great play at the end of this game, got a blocked shot for us, which we needed. We got some good stops, and that was just it,” Diarra said.
Mawien had a quiet, but crucial night with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
The Wildcats will begin the conference portion of the schedule with a road matchup with Oklahoma on Saturday at noon on ESPN+.