Another bad offensive performance kept Kansas State (18-9, 8-7 Big 12) from seizing an opportunity to move up a spot in the Big 12 standings against No. 11 Texas (20-6, 10-5 Big 12). The Wildcats lost at home 62-51.
K-State was knocked out of the game early when Texas ended the first quarter on a 14-4 run to take a 20-9 lead into the break. The Wildcats shot just 3-11 in the quarter, while the Longhorns had already out-rebounded K-State 13-6.
The Wildcats kept pace in the second quarter, getting the Texas lead down to nine points twice before a rough finish to the half by both teams. Neither team scored in the final two minutes.
Texas’ physical defense and full-court press frustrated K-State’s offense throughout the game, but they were able to turn up the pressure in key moments.
“While the turnover number isn’t horrible (15), the fact that we couldn’t get into offense as well as we’d like and play well under duress, and then where the turnovers reared its head is where we had the chances — when we cut the lead,” head coach Jeff Mittie said.
The Longhorns held junior center Ayoka Lee to just 10 points on 3-9 shooting. More damningly, she only grabbed five rebounds in 33 minutes.
“She didn’t get enough touches. We couldn’t run offense, that’s a part of being able to run offense under duress,” Mittie said. “If it’s going to be a wrestling, and that’s what you want to officiate, and it wants to be WWF, then this is a great game to watch, right? One foul on [Lauren] Ebo, really? … It’s a joke for our game.”
In the fourth quarter, K-State came out and cut the Texas lead to four almost immediately before an oddly-timed review killed the momentum. Texas scored nine unanswered to weather the Wildcat run.
“[They were looking at] the elbow on the out of bounds play they thought they saw, but yeah, it stopped our momentum,” Mittie said. “I don’t think it was an accident that that came then. Yeah, we needed to regain the momentum, and that’s something we need to do better.”
Every time K-State managed to get the ball close throughout the game, Texas seemed to have an answer with big three-pointers at the end of the shot clock and well-timed forced turnovers.
“It’s frustrating, but that’s kind of on us, we have to know the shot clock and make the 30 seconds of defense worth it,” freshman point guard Serena Sundell said. “We were kind of packing it in most of the game, but we have to play smarter and know where shooters are and what the time is.”
Sundell led K-State with 16 points on 6-13 shooting. She also dished out three assists and played all forty minutes.
The major difference in the game was Texas’ ability to out-rebound the Wildcats. The 41-29 rebounding differential lead to Texas getting up 21 more shots than K-State.
“I thought we battled better in the second half,” Mittie said. “When you’re minus-21 in shots, that’s a huge problem.”
The Wildcats also struggled to get the ball in on inbounds passes, which compounded the rebounding issues when the ball rolled out of bounds for dead-ball rebounds.
“I think another kind of stat that you don’t notice is the rebounds that you don’t get that turn into dead ball rebounds for you, but now you’re also a dead-ball rebound out of bounds against the press,” Mittie said. “If you could have secured the rebound, that’s a way better play.”
K-State has another chance to take down a ranked team before the Big 12 Tournament when the Wildcats travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to take on the No. 20 Oklahoma Sooners Saturday afternoon. The Sooners sit alone in fourth place in the Big 12 standings.