Men’s basketball comeback falls short as shaky start punishes Wildcats in loss to Iowa State

Junior guard Cartier Diarra scans the court for an open play during the men's basketball game against Baylor in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 3, 2020. The Bears skated by with a six-point victory over the Wildcats. The final score was 73-67. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The men’s basketball team traveled to Hilton Coliseum on Saturday night, looking for some magic of their own in the first matchup with Iowa State this season. An ugly start put the Wildcats in a deep hole early, and despite a valiant comeback attempt, they fell short 73-63.

Both teams entered the matchup near the bottom of the conference and in desperate need of a win to gain some leverage for the Big 12 Tournament in the next half of the conference.

Iowa State jumped out to an 11-2 lead in the opening four minutes of the game and kept the momentum running. Cyclone’s junior forward Solomon Young dominated early with 11 points before the second media timeout of the game. Iowa State went on a 17-0 in the opening minutes to take a 21-5 lead.

The Wildcats slowly started to chip away at the lead and went on a 12-0 run over the final five minutes of the half to only trail 37-28 at the break, which was fortunate after the near dismal start for K-State.

Redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra led the Wildcats with 14 points as the Wildcats shot 31 percent from the floor. Young led the Cyclones with 11 points, but was held scoreless for the majority of the half as Iowa State shot 39 percent from the floor.

The Cyclones went on a 6-0 run early in the second half to keep a double-digit lead over the Wildcats. Kansas State responded with a 13-3 run midway through the half to get back into the game, trailing 52-48 with eight minutes to play.

Two K-State upperclassmen were limited on the floor in the second half. Senior forward Xavier Sneed was limited due to an apparent injury in the second half, and senior forward Makol Mawien was limited with four fouls.

The Cyclones began to pull away late following a media timeout, but the Wildcats continued to stay within single digits until the final minute of the game, which sealed a 73-63 win for the Cyclones.

Diarra led the Wildcats and all scorers with 24 points, just one shy of tying his career-high. The Wildcats shot 38 percent from the floor, including 9-31 from three.

Young dominated down low for the Cyclones with 20 points as Iowa State outscored the Wildcats 22-30 inside the paint. Iowa State finished shooting 45 percent from the floor and went 19-20 at the free-throw line.

The Wildcats will look to gain some momentum going into the second half of the season as K-State hosts Oklahoma State on at 8 p.m. on Tuesday on ESPNU.