WICHITA, Kan. – K-State found the defense it needed in the final minutes but couldn’t find the shots in a 61-54 loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Intrust Bank Arena Saturday night. Four Wildcats reached double figures, including a team-best 15 points from Xavier Sneed, but cold shooting – K-State missed its last eight attempts and didn’t have a field goal in the final five minutes – iced any rally and a 23-game home winning streak against non-conference foes.
Dean Wade (13), Kamau Stokes (11) and Barry Brown (10) joined Sneed in double digits, but no Wildcat could find the bottom of the net away from the free throw line as Tulsa kept K-State at arms-length in the waning minutes.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Sneed powered K-State to a 30-27 halftime lead and paced all players on the floor with 13 points before the break. He hit back-to-back threes in the opening three minutes but the Cats would suffer through the first of two nearly five-minute stretches without a field goal. Sneed added a trio of free throws during the first drought but Tulsa led by as many as six points (14-8) before Wade broke the seal on a jumper and drew K-State within one with 12:19 remaining.
Wade then pulled the Cats even at 16-16 with a three pointer near the 10-minute mark, one of just four made threes by K-State as they launched a near-season-most 31 attempts from deep. Tulsa answered and pushed the lead back to five just two minutes later, but K-State found the spark it needed with a one-handed, put-back jam by Sneed followed immediately by a steal-turned-breakaway slam by Amaad Wainright for a 26-25 advantage.
As impressive as Sneed was in the opening frame, Tulsa’s Junior Etou matched the effort in the second. The senior forward from Congo stepped out to hit five threes in the contest, including three while pouring in 13 of his game-high 22 points after the break.
Still, the Cats and Hurricane were tied 49-49 with 6:15 to play before the first of two dagger threes from TU’s Elijah Joiner. With a crowd of more than 7,000 willing them on, K-State got a defensive stop and strong rebound from Sneed – one of a game-high-tying eight boards nabbed – then a bucket from Wade on the other end to trim the advantage to one. That was K-State’s last field goal of the game, though several defensive stops and made free throws pulled the Cats even and kept them within a single possession until the final 30 seconds.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Xavier Sneed – Sneed did a little of everything in the first half, including erasing what looked like an easy Tulsa lay-up, an assist, two steals, three rebounds and he led all scorers with 13 at the break. He added just two more points after half but still ended as K-State’s leader in points (15), rebounds (8), made free throws (5), assists (4), steals (3) and blocks (1). It was Sneed’s sixth game in double figures this season.
STAT OF THE GAME
17 – Lead changes in a back and forth contest at Intrust Bank arena. The Cats largest lead was the halftime margin (30-27) and Tulsa’s largest lead was the game’s final score (61-54), ballooning with four made free throws in the final 30 seconds. The score was tied nine times in the game, the last at 53-53 with 3:41 to play.
SEASON RECORD UPDATE
- K-State 8-2 (0-0 Big 12)
- Tulsa 5-4 (0-0 American)
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“You have to give them credit. We talked about them being athletic and tough and they lose Jeffries (Daquan) who is probably their second best player, if not their best player at times. And other guys stepped up, they were very active in the zone, they were very active on the boards. They kept us off balance. I thought the first half we moved the ball and got good shots, we just missed them. The second half we panicked a little bit and just were not crisp in our offense and we forced some things, and down the stretch we definitely panicked. We have some older guys that have been through it and it’s a zone so it is a little different. In a man you can “run this” but in a zone you have to make some reads and get some inside touches. We just did not get enough inside touches, which was probably the biggest key.”