LUBBOCK, Texas — Kansas State looked like two different teams.
The first half K-State was lifeless and totally overmatched on both ends of the court by Texas Tech. The second half K-State played with energy, slicing a 21-point deficit down to seven points.
The bad half was too much for the good half to overcome, and the Wildcats lost 74-58 to the No. 18 Red Raiders on Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena.
“We didn’t come out with that fire,” said K-State guard Barry Brown, who scored 24 points while playing 39 minutes. “I tried to pump our guys up and we just didn’t come out with that fire on the defensive end. We weren’t really scoring and they got in transition and we were missing guys in rotations and they got easy dunks, 3s and all kinds of stuff. They are a good team, but we beat ourselves on some plays.
“We came out with a little more energy,” Brown said of the second half. “We had our backs against the wall. We fought for a little bit and had a couple of turnovers and they were able to capitalize and stretch the lead back out. We still fought hard but just not hard enough.”
It was the second straight loss for the Wildcats (11-4, 1-2 Big 12) while Tech (14-1, 3-0) followed up its big win at Kansas with another Sunflower State beatdown.
“I thought maybe we’d catch them a little bit off that high after Kansas, but they came with great energy,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Maybe we caught them a little lethargic the second half, but I hope it was some of the stuff we did.
“We got it down to seven or eight then we had a couple of turnovers where it stretched it back to double digits and it was just trying to catch up.”
Aside from losing the game, the Wildcats may have suffered a key personnel loss. Point guard Kamau Stokes injured his foot late in the first half, went to the locker room with the trainer and didn’t return the second half.
Weber didn’t immediately know the severity of the injury.
“We’ll probably find out something when we get home,” he said. “We’ll hope and pray he’s all right and see what happens. He came down wrong on his foot.”
The first half was a mess for the Wildcats. They missed their first five shots and midway through the half faced a 20-4 deficit, making only 2 of 10 shots.
Tech moved out to a 32-11 advantage with five minutes left and held a 40-22 halftime lead.
“They really got after us in the first half and we just didn’t have any answers,” Weber said. “We didn’t play strong enough. They were very physical with us and we didn’t deal with it.
“I thought if we could have fought through a couple of possessions and got a couple of baskets, maybe we could have kept it to 10 or 12 instead of 16 or so.”
The Wildcats came out with more energy and enthusiasm in the second half, using a 13-2 surge over the opening 5½ minutes to cut their deficit to seven points (42-35).
Dean Wade was a big part of the comeback with eight points in that opening run, but Wade — who scored two points the first half — picked up two fouls in the first eight minutes and went to the bench with four fouls at the 12:08 mark.
The Raiders soon regained control. Keenan Evans, who scored 27 points, scored twice and Brandon Francis made two free throws after back-to-back K-State turnovers, going on an 11-2 run to rebuild their margin to 17 points (59-42) with 9:39 remaining.
“The first half we played some of the best basketball that we’ve played this year,” Tech coach Chris Beard said. “The second half we didn’t play well, but you have to give the opponent credit for some of that. Give our guys credit — we found a way to win our third Big 12 game.
“Everybody understands we made some mistakes, but K-State made some plays and made some shots. Our guys did a good job staying composed and keeping the lead. We held the lead for 40 minutes.”
The Wildcats didn’t have a final pushback in them and the Raiders stayed comfortably in front with a parade to the free throw line over the final eight minutes (11 of 12) for their eighth straight victory.
Wade finished with 14 points and five rebounds, fouling out with 2:20 remaining, and freshman Cartier Diarra scored 11 points with 2 assists and 3 turnovers playing the point in the second half to fill in for Stokes.
“We played better, we competed better, we played stronger,” Weber said of the second half. “We made it a little bit of game.
“We missed some free throws. We cut it to seven and if we get a few of those to go, now it’s really a game. They seemed to make all their free throws down the stretch.”