Early frost haunted the Wildcats in a 67-60 loss to TCU on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats tried to take the lead late in the game but could not deliver down the stretch.
Sophomore guard DaJuan Gordon led the Wildcats with a career-high 18 points. It is the third time this season that the Chicago native either tied or broke his previous career-highs. He added seven rebounds and three assists.
“DaJuan had an unbelievable line,” head coach Bruce Weber said.
The Horned Frogs entered the matchup with three starters averaging double-digits, but the Wildcats limited two to below their season averages. Junior guard RJ Nembhard got open and led all scorers with 21 points. Nembhard is second in the conference in scoring, averaging 18 points per game.
“Obviously, you’re disappointed, especially with the start of the game,” Weber said. “We didn’t have the passion, the fight on the defensive end.”
TCU got the hot hand early with an 18 point lead and finished the half, shooting 62 percent from the floor to hold the lead from wire to wire in the first half — inducing a 36-26 lead at the half.
“We didn’t have our energy right away as we had expected,” freshman forward Davion Bradford said. “We expected to have energy from the jump, hard defense, flow on offense but it just didn’t work out right away.”
Poor shooting in the first half haunted the Wildcats. Midway through the opening frame, the Wildcats shot 17 percent from the floor. A 7-0 run with under four minutes to go gave Kansas State some life. The Wildcats finished the half shooting 32 percent from the floor.
Shots from the three were the most impactful as the Wildcats went 1-10 in the first half, the lowest three-point percentage in a half this season. The first made three for the Wildcats came on a runner at the buzzer by Gordon.
“It gave us a little momentum,” Weber said. “Then we came out and scored right away out of the half and regain some of that momentum.”
It was a tale of two halves for the Wildcats offensively, but a slow start proved to be the Achilles heel once again.
“If we would have done better in the second half, been tougher, we would have gotten them,” Gordon said. “Since we had to play fight back the whole game, we just needed a little more time.”
The Wildcats opened the half carrying the late momentum of the first half and shot 71 percent from the floor early out of the break.
K-State got back in the game but failed to take the lead. The Wildcats pulled within striking distance, 59-56, with three minutes remaining in the game but went 2-8 from the floor in following the three to fall 67-60.
Led by Gordon, four Wildcats finish in double figures. K-State finished the game shooting 37 percent from the floor. The Wildcats didn’t get much help from the substitutes and were outscored 19-3 off the bench.
The Wildcats face off against Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday night. This is the second game K-State played on the road all season. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. on ESPN2.