Kansas State fought back from a 16-point first-half deficit to close to within one possession of No. 1/1 Baylor, but the top-ranked Bears showed why they have won a school-record 19 consecutive games with a 73-67 victory over the Wildcats on Monday night before 8,888 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
With the win, Baylor (20-1, 9-0 Big 12) snapped a 6-game losing streak to K-State (9-13, 2-7 Big 12) and earned its first win at Bramlage Coliseum since the Bears were also the top-ranked team on January 14, 2017. The Wildcats fell to 5-15 all-time against the No. 1 team in the country, including 4-5 at Bramlage Coliseum.
Baylor jumped out to a 16-point lead in the first half, as the Big 12’s top defense held K-State without a field goal for more than 7 minutes. However, a 3-pointer from senior Xavier Sneed, the last of three consecutive triples, pulled the Wildcats to within one possession at 29-26 with 2:18 to play.
Leading just 33-28 at the half, Baylor grabbed the momentum early in the second half, scoring 9 of the first 13 points to push the lead back into double figures at 42-32 with 14:05 remaining. After K-State responded with 5 straight points to close to within 42-37, the Bears took control with a 14-4 that extended the lead to 56-41 and forced head coach Bruce Weber to call his third timeout with 8:46 remaining.
The resilient Wildcats continued to battle, closing to within 70-62 on Sneed’s fourth 3-pointer of the night and the 200th of his career, but the Bears made the free throws to close out the game, 73-67.
The loss spoiled an impressive night for Sneed, who led all scorers with game-high 23 points on 7-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, to go with a game-tying 8 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 minutes. It marked the eighth 20-point game of Sneed’s career, including his fourth this season. Sneed, who moved past Mitch Richmond (1,327/1986-88) into 12th place on the all-time scoring list with 1,333 points, became just the fifth Wildcat to eclipse 200 career 3-point field goals and the first since former teammate Kamau Stokes last season.
Sneed was joined in double figures by junior Cartier Diarra (11), senior Makol Mawien (10) and freshman Montavious Murphy (10), which marked the first time four Wildcats had scored in double figures in a Big 12 game this season. Diarra’s 11 points led a Wildcat bench, which outscored the Bears, 22-11.
K-State’s 67 points were the second-most Baylor has given up in Big 12 play, as the Wildcats connected 45.8 percent (22-of-48) of its field goals on the night, including 38.1 percent (8-of-21) from 3-point range, and made 15 of 19 attempts (78.9 percent) from the free throw line.
Baylor connected on 50 percent (24-of-48) of its field goals on the night, including in each half, while the Bears knocked down 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from 3-point range. They posted an opponent-high 20 fast-break points, while they held advantages in both points in the paint (28-26) and points off turnovers (16-13).
Sophomore Jared Butler led three players in double figures with 20 points on 7-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while junior MaCio Teague and sophomore Davion Mitchell added 15 and 13 points, respectively. The trio were responsible for 7 of the Bears’ nine 3-point field goals on the night.
K-State has now lost 9 games (of 13 total losses) by single digits or by 46 total points.