The Longhorns started Big 12 play on a sour note, falling 65-62 to Kansas State in Manhattan, Kansas, on Friday night. Texas hadn’t lost to Kansas State since 2014.
The Longhorns couldn’t have drawn up a better first five minutes to their Big 12 campaign. Texas jumped out to a quick 11-4 lead over Kansas State, a run highlighted by aggressive offensive rebounding and a pair of ferocious one-handed jams by freshman forward Jarrett Allen.
But any momentum from the promising start quickly dissipated for the Burnt Orange. The Wildcats responded with a 15-0 run to capture a 19-11 lead with 8:56 left in the first half.
Texas battled back throughout the game, however. The Longhorns matched the Wildcats’ spurt with a 15-6 run of their own, helping the team capture a 26-25 lead late in the first half. But Kansas State answered, finishing the first half strongly to enter the break with a 32-29 lead.
Texas struggled with turnovers and shooting in the second half, and the Wildcats took advantage. Kansas State gradually piled onto its lead throughout the frame, eventually building a 53-40 lead with 7:23 remaining in the game.
But the Longhorns once again climbed back, mounting a furious rally in the game’s final minutes. Texas pulled to within six with 1:11 left in the contest, but sound free-throw shooting from the Wildcats down the stretch prevented the Longhorns from completing the comeback bid.
The Burnt Orange came into the contest ranking last in the Big 12 in most offensive categories, including field percentage, three-point percentage and assists per game. The team did little to reprimand their poor offensive performances this season.
Although Texas shot an encouraging 46 percent from the field, the team shot only 28 percent from deep and managed only 12 assists. The Longhorns also turned the ball over 17 times, only one less than their season-high.
Due to their offensive struggles, the Longhorns once again had to rely on their defensive proficiency to stay competitive. Texas held Kansas State to a paltry 36 percent shooting clip, and forced 12 turnovers.
Despite their general defensive success, the Longhorns were unable to find an answer for Kansas State’s sophomore forward Dean Wade. Wade led the game with 18 points, and his back-to-back threes early in the second half helped break the game open.
Allen shone once again for Texas. The freshman led the team with 14 points and also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to record his second straight double-double. Senior center Shaquille Cleare and sophomore guard Kerwin Roach would each pitch in 10 points for Texas.
Texas plays their conference home opener next Wednesday against Oklahoma State. Tipoff for the contest is slated for 7 p.m.