Kansas State holds on to beat Texas Tech, 58-51
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Kansas State coach Bruce Weber called a 58-51 victory over Texas Tech on Wednesday night a ”maturity game,” the kind of performance that proves just how far a team has come.
The Wildcats didn’t play all that well – they were outrebounded, frequently out-hustled, and struggled with their shots. They allowed the Red Raiders to hang around until the closing minutes, squandering more than one opportunity to put the game away.
It was the kind of game that Kansas State might have lost earlier this season.
”Trying to come back after a really good win against Oklahoma on the road, and then we had to earn the victory,” Weber said, ”and I thought we did it, we went and fought and earned it.”
Kansas State (10-7, 3-1 Big 12) led just 49-46 with 3 minutes to go, but a couple of fouls and a costly turnover by the Red Raiders’ Robert Turner allowed the Wildcats to pull away.
Thomas Gipson scored a tough bucket in the paint, and then after the turnover, Justin Edwards curled in a layup on the run-out. Jevon Thomas added two foul shots for a 54-46 advantage.
Turner, who had a game-high 16 points for Texas Tech (10-7, 0-4), knocked down a 3-pointer with 53 seconds left, but he missed another moments later that could have made it 54-52.
Instead, the Wildcats grabbed the rebound and Edwards was fouled. He made both of his free throws for a 56-49 lead with 27 seconds left, effectively putting the game away.
”We played hard tonight, gave ourselves a chance there at the end,” Texas Tech coach Tubby Smith said, ”but certainly Kansas State did what they had to do to ice the game.”
Marcus Foster led the Wildcats with 14 points. Wesley Iwundu added 10.
It was the fourth straight loss to open Big 12 play for the Red Raiders, and their second defeat in the Sunflower State in the last four days. They lost at No. 9 Kansas on Saturday.
”We’ve got a tough time scoring,” Smith said. ”We play good defense but we just have to manufacture points. Going with a smaller lineup has hurt.”
After the Wildcats took a 26-14 lead following a technical foul on Smith, the Red Raiders regrouped to score the next eight points. They had the ball for what should have been the final possession of the first half, too, but promptly turned it over.
Nigel Johnson’s buzzer-beating basket at the other end gave Kansas State a 28-20 lead.
Texas Tech kept whittling into the lead early in the second half, taking advantage of a big edge on the offensive boards to score easy second-chance points. The Red Raiders got within 36-35 before Foster, struggling with his shot, finally got a 3-pointer to go.
”I hadn’t made a shot in a long time,” he said.
The Red Raiders remained close the rest of the way, at one point getting back-to-back dunks from Zach Smith and Isaiah Manderson to energize their bench. But the Wildcats always seemed to have an answer, whether it was Foster on the perimeter or Gipson on the inside.
”You know, we can’t stay complacent,” Foster said. ”You know, they came out and hit shots, that was the thing they did. We just got to keep grinding, defending and putting away teams.”
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were 8 for 8 from the foul line. … They’ve now held 14 of 17 opponents below 70 points this season. … Texas Tech got 39 points from its bench.
Kansas State: The Wildcats won despite getting outrebounded 38-30. … Kansas State went to the foul line 26 times, making 21 of them. … Kansas State was just 3 for 10 from 3-point range.
Texas Tech returns home to play TCU on Saturday.
Kansas State faces No. 22 Baylor on Saturday.
Kansas State has held 10 consecutive opponents below 65 points, its longest stretch since the 1982-83 season, when the Wildcats went 17 games. ”That’s our identity,” Wesley Iwundu said.
PAGING KLIFF KINGSBURY
One of the big reasons Texas Tech has struggled to score, coach Tubby Smith said, has been poor play at point guard. ”Most teams need someone who can really distribute the ball, just like a good quarterback,” he said. ”Somebody who can hit guys in stride, in the end zone. That’s what we have trouble with. We’ve really missed people open all year long.”