Kansas State improved their record to an impressive 17-2, 6-1 in Big 12 play on Sautrday, defeating Texas Tech at Bramlage Coliseum 68-58. With the loss, Tech falls to 10-9 on the season and 0-7 in Big 12 play.
K-State started the game with Markquis Nowell drilling an open 3-pointer in the corner to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead early. But Texas Tech responded to take an 8-6 lead with Fardaws Aimaq scoring a couple of early buckets for Texas tech. But Ish Massoud quickly buried another 3-pointer to give K-State a 12-11 lead with about 14:40 left in the first half.
Texas Tech then went on a bit of a scoring drought making just 1-of-10 shots from the field, which helped K-State take a 19-13 lead when Nowell made his fourth 3-pointer of the first half.
But first-half foul trouble for Keyontae Johnson, Desi Sill and Nae’Qwan Tomlin helped Texas take a 33-28 lead to the half with the Wildcats not scoring a field goal in the final 4:30 of the first half. Tech’s Pop Issacs made a half-court buzzer-beater to give the Red Raiders a five-point lead at the break.
K-State tied the game at 35 early in the second half with Nowell splitting a pair of free throws after being fouled on a deep 2-point attempt by Aimaq. Tech struggled offensively early in the second half, experiencing a scoring drought of 2:20 before the first media timeout.
But K-State experienced their own extended scoring drought shortly after Tech’s, not seeing any field goals in 4:41. Tomlin was tagged with his fourth personal foul with 14:25 left in the second half. He wouldn’t check back into the game until 4:46 remained in the second half.
Wildcat head coach Jerome Tang was forced to call a timeout after Issacs made a layup to put the Red Raiders up 45-37 with 13:11 left in the game.
Coming out of the timeout, K-State scored on back-to-back possessions with Massoud getting a put-back and Sillsma making a reverse layup to make it 45-41 going into the under-12 media timeout of the second half.
The Wildcats went on an 11-0 run, which included a pair of buckets from Johnson to take a 48-45 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game. The run consisted of K-State making five straight shots and Tech turning it over four times inside a four-minute stretch.
K-State took a six-point lead after Johnson buried his first 3-pointer of the afternoon and Sills finished a layup while being fouled, but the Wildcats’ backup point guard wasn’t able to make it a 3-point play because he missed the free throw.
Over a 10-minute stretch in the second half, K-State went on a 23-5 run, which included Tech missing nine straight field goals and a scoring drought of nearly seven consecutive minutes. But the scoreless streak ended with Aimaq converting on a layup to make it a 60-52 game with 1:52 left in the second half.
But Massoud responded with another big shot on the other end by hitting a fadeaway baseline jumper to give the Cats a 62-52 lead with 1:23 left in the game.
Saturday’s win at Bramlage Coliseum continues K-State’s best start to a season since the 2009-10 season when the Cats started the season 16-2 under former head coach Frank Martin.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Massoud has turned into an integral role player for K-State off the bench in Big 12 play — and on Saturday he had his best game of the season. Massoud ended the game with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, which included making 2-of-3 shots from the perimeter.
Massoud has been challenged by Tang, publicly, this season, but he’s really responded in league play. His contributions off the bench have been massive for K-State during their 6-1 start to Big 12 play.
K-State travels to Ames, Iowa, to play Iowa State on Tuesday at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State entered Saturday ranked No. 12 in the country with a 14-3 overall record and a 5-1 record in the Big 12.
But the Cyclones played at Oklahoma State on Saturday and fell to the Cowboys 61-59. Iowa State and Kansas losing on Saturday move K-State into sole possession of first place in the Big 12. The Wildcats hold a one-game lead over both the Jayhawks and Cyclones.