Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Kansas State men’s basketball team (14-15, 6-11) couldn’t close out a tight conference game on Monday night. The loss against No. 12 Texas Tech gave the Wildcats their eighth loss in conference play of fewer than five points.
“It’s just Groundhog Day,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “I would say the same thing I’ve always said, appreciate the guys, love the guys. They care.”
In one of the best basketball environments in the country — United Supermarkets Arena — K-State jumped out to a nine-point lead halfway through the first half. The Red Raiders then used the remaining ten minutes of the period to go on a 14-point swing, giving Texas Tech a 36-31 advantage going into the locker room.
The Wildcats knocked down five three-pointers in the first half without the help of second-leading scorer Markquis Nowell, who was ruled out with a hamstring injury before the game.
“He’s the head of the snake … Life, energy, grit,” super-senior Mike McGuirl said about Nowell’s absence. “I hope he can come back Saturday.”
The second half was a back-and-forth affair, staying within two possessions for the entire 20 minutes. With four minutes to go, McGuirl made a jump-shot to put the Wildcats up two, but the Red Raider’s Davion Warren immediately hit a shot of his own to tie up the score.
Free throws from sophomore Selton Miguel gave the Wildcats a one-point lead with 1:25 remaining. Those were the last points that K-State would score.
Texas Tech finished the game on a 6-0 run, winning 73-68. In the final minute, McGuirl was called for a controversial foul call while trying to get a tie-up, and sophomore Nijel Pack got a potential game-tying three-pointer blocked with ten seconds to go — a play that could have been called a foul.
McGuirl led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 points — a season-high for the super-senior. Also scoring in double-figures was Miguel with 14, Pack with 13 and super-senior Mark Smith with 11.
Warren led the Red Raiders with 23 points on 9-11 shooting. Bryson Williams added 19 and Adonis Arms provided 10.
Texas Tech finished its season with a perfect 18-0 record at home. The Wildcat’s five-point loss is the Red Raider’s closest home score of the season.
“Consolation prize, I guess we get something,” Weber said with a hint of sarcasm.
K-State celebrates Senior Day and its final home game of the season at 3 p.m. on Saturday as the Wildcats welcome Oklahoma to Manhattan. The game will air on ESPN+.