MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats were looking for a spark, but instead they went up in flames.
Texas caught fire in the second half and the Wildcats had no answer at either end of the floor Wednesday night as the Longhorns pulled away late for a 67-47 victory in the Big 12 opener at Bramlage Coliseum.
Texas (9-4, 1-0 Big 12), hit 9 of 11 3-pointers after the break while the short-handed and offensively challenged Wildcats (10-3, 0-1) endured another rough shooting night minus two of their top scorers. Senior point guard Kamau Stokes was a late scratch with a flare-up of a foot injury while Dean Wade missed his fourth straight game.
But it was Texas’ offense as much as anything that took down the Wildcats, one of the nation’s leading defensive teams. The Longhorns shot 60.9 percent after intermission and made seven 3-pointers over the last 11 minutes to take control.
“We tend to be feast or famine when it comes to shooting the three,” said Texas coach Shaka Smart, whose Longhorns were fat and happy after knocking down 14 for the game. “I would love to see us have more games where it’s in the high 30s (percent), but we’ll obviously take the high 40s when we can get them.
“In the games we have won, we have shot the ball well from the outside.”
Nobody shot it better than backup guard Jase Febres, whose back-to-back 3-pointers put Texas in front to stay, 40-35, with 10:45 left. He made 8 of 10 shots, including 7 of 9 3-pointers, to lead all scorers with 23 points.
“We had some breakdowns and then they had the one kid be special,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said of Febres. “He goes 7 for 9, 21 points off of that (and) that’s the difference in the game.
“I thought for that stretch defensively we were pretty good, and then when they made a couple of shots and got it from eight to 10, we had some bad possessions offensively and didn’t give ourselves a chance — didn’t finish some plays, missed some open shots and missed some free throws. But give them credit.”
The Wildcats trailed by eight late in the first half, but scored the last five points of the period to trail 25-22 at the break. They got a break when, with Texas holding for a last shot, Cartier Diarra stole the ball from Kerwin Roach and beat the buzzer with a breakaway dunk. The play came after the Longhorns had gotten an offensive rebound and had a chance to expand a five-point lead.
The Wildcats then extended the run to 10 by scoring the first give points of the second half, grabbing a 27-25 lead on Makol Mawien’s rebound basket with 17:02 left. Barry Brown started the period with a 3-pointer.
K-State still led 35-34 on Brown’s driving layup with 11:38 to go, but that’s when Febres took over. His three at the 10:45 mark was the last of eight second-half lead changes. It sparked a 9-1 Longhorn run.
“Some were contested and some were not,” Febres said. “I shot confidently, and after that you do not really have any control over that.
“When competing consistently, my shot preparation is everything.”
K-State still had life when Xavier Sneed’s 3-pointer from the right corner cut it to 47-41 with 6:31 left, but Texas answered with 10 straight points, including threes from Courtney Ramey and Febres that made it 57-41 at the 3:22 mark.
“Some of them were tough, but for the most part I felt like we broke down, especially allowing them to get offensive rebounds and kick-outs,” Brown said of Texas’ 3-point barrage. “Those are the easiest times for them to shoot threes.
“They had a guy that was hot and he stepped up and made big shots. We’re good on defense, we just have to get back to our roots.”
Brown, who came in as the team’s leading scorer, was held to eight points on 3 of 10 shooting, with five rebounds and five assists. He also turned the ball over six times.
Mawien was the Wildcats’ only double-figure scorer with 13 points, followed by Sneed with nine.
For Texas, Roach added 10 points and Jaxson Hayes nine, plus 11 rebounds. The Longhorns outrebounded K-State 34-32, with Mawien, Diarra and Brown each grabbing five for the Wildcats.
K-State next goes on the road Saturday for a 1 p.m. game at No. 11-ranked Texas Tech.
Kpegeol in uniform
Guard Goodnews Kpegeol, who signed with K-State in November as part of its 2019 recruiting class is enrolled for the second semester and was suited up for Wednesday’s game against Texas.
The 6-foot-6 Kpegeol, who spent the first semester at Taylor Made Prep in Florida, is expected to redshirt and play as a freshman in 2019-20.