It was a tale of two halves in Lubbock, Texas, on Tuesday night. In the first half Kansas State seemed to be playing toe to toe with the No. 18 ranked team in the nation, but when the final buzzer rang, K-State dropped their second straight Big 12 Conference game 82-71 to Texas Tech.
Four double-digit scoring efforts, a higher shooting percentage from the field and from beyond the arc wasn’t enough for K-State to take down the Red Raiders. The 24 Wildcat fouls gave 30 points to Texas Tech from the free-throw line, with a few of those fouls being technicals.
“It was a really emotional game,” freshman guard Nijel Pack said. “Coach (Weber) told us before the game, he even wrote on the board, ‘Play with emotion’, and that’s what we did. Sometimes I think we play with a little too much emotion, being young, there’s definitely going to be mistakes.”
While those 24 fouls were crucial for the Wildcats, freshman Davion Bradford earned his fourth foul of the game and was benched. After being down 44-39 to start out the second half, K-State faced its largest deficit of the game, 58-41, thanks to a 12-2 run by the Red Raiders.
“(Losing Bradford) hurt,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We got it to him three in a row to start the second half, and then he gets a little emotional and he gets a third (foul). He then gets a foul on a back screen, I guess it’s my fault for leaving him in, but that’s hopefully a learning lesson.”
Before the second-half collapse by K-State, things looked up for the Wildcats. K-State led by as much as seven coming out of the gate, thanks to stellar three-point shooting from Pack and fellow freshman Selton Miguel.
Typically out of the gate, the Wildcats struggle and dig themselves into a deficit.
“We know we’ve made improvements,” Pack said. “Last few games, we came out a little sluggish, the teams usually jump out on us and it was a good thing for us to be able to jump out on a team today, it shows that we are kind of improving. Being able to sustain that is what our goal would be.”
Problems began to show after Texas Tech went on a 15-2 run to take a 25-19 lead with five minutes to play in the first half. A quick K-State comeback had the Wildcats up by one (29-28) in the waning minutes, but another Red Raider run capped off the first half with Texas Tech leading 36-31.
“On offense, poise wasn’t the issue tonight, it was really defense,” senior Mike McGuirl said. “You know coming to Texas Tech they’re going to go on runs at points and you know they’re going to have a lot of energy.”
The Red Raiders’ energy continued into the second half. That energy and ability to go on runs, mixed with the foul issues and loss of Bradford, equaled a game out of reach for K-State.
Even while getting the game back to within seven points twice in the final minutes of the second half, K-State couldn’t get out of the hole. With the loss, the Wildcats dropped to 5-7 on the season and 1-3 in Big 12 play.
Both Miguel and Pack netted 17 points, setting a career-high for Pack, and matching a career-high for Miguel, while both shot above a 50 percent clip.
“We’re growing and we’re competing down to the last second which is encouraging, not necessarily fun, but encouraging,” McGuirl said.
K-State finished shooting at a 49 percent clip, compared to Texas Tech’s 45 percent, while also shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc, which was only 22 percent for the Red Raiders.
K-State plays Oklahoma State on Saturday night. The game is set for a 5 p.m. tip-off at Bramlage Coliseum and can be seen on ESPN2.