Three takeaways from Kansas State basketball's 69-66 home loss to Texas
MANHATTAN — The Bramlage magic finally wore out for Kansas State, and Texas took full advantage.
The No. 9-ranked Longhorns rallied from an 11-point halftime deficit and held off a late charge by K-State to escape Bramlage Coliseum with a 69-66 victory Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 11,000. It was the first home loss for the No. 6 Wildcats, who fell to 18-5 overall, 6-4 in the Big 12.
Texas (19-4, 8-2) remained in the conference lead by one game over Iowa State, which knocked off Kansas at home earlier in the day. It was the third straight conference loss for K-State, which dropped into a tie for third place.
"Normally I'm up here and I talk about washing things," said K-State coach Jerome Tang. "But I don't want to wash this one.
"I want us to live with this feeling for the next 48 hours, because our fans deserve better than what I did as a head coach and what we did as a staff and what we did as players in that second half. And it will be different on Tuesday night."
The Wildcats will be back at home Tuesday for an 8 p.m. game against No. 16 TCU, a team that beat them, 82-68, on Jan. 14 in Fort Worth.
The rematch against Texas was a stark contrast with the first meeting between the teams, an up-and-down affair that K-State won, 116-103, while setting a school scoring record.
Texas relied heavily on its bench Saturday, with reserves Sir'Jabari Rice and Christian Bishop each scoring 14 points to lead the way. Keyontae Johnson had 16 points, Desi Sills 11 and Markquis Nowell 10 for K-State.
Texas trailed 36-25 at halftime, but hit its first five shots to start the second period and led by as many as 6 points before K-State clawed its way back and briefly led, 66-65, on Nowell's driving layup.
Bishop put Texas back in front with 37.4 seconds left, and after a Nowell turnover, Rich made two free throws at 9.0 seconds for the final margin.
K-State still had a chance to tie, but Ismael Massoud's 3-point attempt fell short just before the buzzer sounded.
Here are three takeaways from the Wildcats' loss.
Second-half breakdown dooms Wildcats
Kansas State, which had been rock solid at home all season, was unable to protect a double-digit halftime lead against Texas, and it wasn't pretty.
The Longhorns started the second half with a 12-4 run as K-State turned the ball over four times in the first four minutes. At the 12:05 mark Bishop put Texas in front, 46-45, with a 3-point play.
"In the second half, I feel like they came out and were the tougher team," Nowell said. "They got a lot of second-chance points and offensive rebounds."
Texas, which had just two offensive rebounds in the first half, grabbed seven in the second period and scored 8 second-chance points after the break to just 3 for K-State.
The tide actually began to turn with 0.4 seconds left in the first half, when K-State's Tykei Greene fouled Rice on a 3-pointer. Rice made all three free throws pulling the Longhorns within 11 at the break.
K-State shines without stars in first half
With Johnson limited to less than five minutes by foul trouble and Nowell off his game, Kansas State still built a double-digit halftime advantage by spreading the wealth.
The Wildcats' first 17 points came with eight different players scoring.
Johnson scored 5 points in his 4 minutes, 46 seconds on 2-of-4 shooting in the period. Nowell scored 4 points in 19 minutes and was 1-of-5 from floor, missing all four of his 3-point attempts, and had three turnovers to just one assist.
Nowell never found a rhythm, finishing with six turnovers and three assists. He missed all five 3-point tries. Nowell now has 20 total turnovers in the last four games, three of them K-State losses.
"Tonight I wasn't really good. I turned the ball over way too much, which is something I take pride in," said Nowell, who still came in with a 2.5 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio. "I've just got to watch film and be aggressive, but not hurt my team.
"Tonight, there were plenty of times where I was over-dribbling or trying to make the home-run play, and it kind of cost us. So I'll watch film and be better as a point guard and leader so this won't happen again."
K-State did get a big lift in the first half from Desi Sills, who scored 7 points in 17 minutes with five rebounds and two assists. He finished with 10 points.
Early foul trouble limits Keyontae Johnson
Johnson, K-State's leading scorer on the season, was shut down not so much by Texas, but by foul problems early on.
Johnson picked up his second personal on a charge with just 1:07 gone and immediately came out. Tang, who typically keeps his starters on the bench with two first-half fouls, trusted Johnson enough to bring him back twice for short stretches, and the first time Johnson quickly knocked down a 3-pointer.
But Johnson, who had 5 points in the half, got his third foul with 5:21 left and sat for the rest of the period.
"Hats off to Keyontae for being able to come in for the spurts he did in the first half," Tang said. "But he wasn't able to help us rebounding and he wasn't able to help us defensively, and so it took a lot away from us in the first half."
Johnson came back strong in the second half and made 6-of-10 shots overall, including a pair of 3-pointers, but he had only three rebounds, well below his 7.9 average.
Arne Green is based in Salina and covers Kansas State University sports for the Gannett network. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @arnegreen.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas State basketball blows 11-point halftime lead against Texas