Men’s basketball matches worst start in Big 12 play since 2015 in loss to Texas

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Junior guard Cartier Diarra charges the basket during the men’s basketball game against TCU in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 8, 2020. The Wildcats fell to the Horned Frogs in a game that was close until the very end, 59-57. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Last season the men’s basketball team started conference play with a 0-2 record, but went on to win 14 of their 16 later games and secure a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title with Texas Tech.

Kansas State found themselves in similar straits Saturday night as they prepared to take on Texas on the road, sitting at the bottom of the Big 12 standings after close losses to TCU and Oklahoma.

But things are looking much different for the Wildcats this season after they fell 64-50 in Austin, Texas, matching their worst start in Big 12 play since 2015 at 0-3.

This was just a cap on what has already been a tough trip to Austin, as weather delays and issues with the team’s flight led to the Wildcat’s 2:30 p.m. arrival, leaving them ill prepared for a 7 p.m. tip-off.

Texas (11-4, 1-2) played their hand early, setting the tone for the rest of the night by nailing three shots from behind the arc to take a 9-2 lead. This was part of a 50 percent shooting night from three-point land with five Longhorns taking part in a whopping 10 three-pointers. Sophomore guard Courtney Ramey led the way with three of the 10 from beyond the arc.

K-State (7-8, 0-3) hung with the Longhorns, making their move with a three-pointer from senior forward Xavier Sneed that started a 7-0 run for the Wildcats, capped off with a layup from junior guard Cartier Diarra. This run gave the Wildcats their final lead of the game at 18-16 with 6:40 left in the first half.

Going into the break, K-State was down by one after a jumper from junior forward Levi Stockard III with 19 seconds to go, but a three-pointer at the buzzer by Texas sophomore Kamaka Hepa put the Wildcats in a 31-27 hole going into the break.

Shooting at 45.8 percent from the field and scoring 16 points off 11 Texas turnovers, K-State looked to have a good chance at pulling a comeback out of the break in typical Wildcat fashion — the Wildcats trailed at the half in nine of their 14 games this season, winning four of those games before taking on Texas.

Texas came out of the break on fire with a 12-0 run led by six points from Ramey and made possible by sloppy play from the Wildcats in the form of multiple shot clock violations, three turnovers and 0-8 shooting from the field.

The Wildcats outscored the Longhorns 23-21 in the final 12 minutes of play, but the damage was already done and K-State walked off the court with an ugly 64-50 defeat, now 0-3 in conference play.

Diarra led the way for K-State with 14 points, the only Wildcat to score in double figures on the night. The next closest Wildcat was freshman guard DaJaun Gordon with nine points.

Texas had three double-digit scorers with junior Matt Coleman III leading the Longhorns with 14 points. Ramey fell behind him with 11 points and junior guard Jase Febres with 10 points. The Longhorns finished the night shooting at 49 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three, while committing 20 turnovers.

K-State looks to get back in the win column at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, when they host No. 22 Texas Tech (10-5, 1-2) — who also lost in their matchup on Saturday to West Virginia. The game is available on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with live audio on KMAN radio.

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