Diarra’s clutch three propels men’s basketball over Tulsa

Junior guard Cartier Diarra dribbles down the court 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)

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+.