MANHATTAN — Scoring droughts are hard for the Kansas State Wildcats to overcome against any opponent.
Add several degrees of difficulty when the No. 1 team in college basketball comes to town.
K-State displayed enough toughness and effort to give Baylor a competitive basketball game on Monday at Bramlage Coliseum, but it needed more than that to pull off an upset against the Bears. The Wildcats came out cold at the start of each half and trailed from wire-to-wire during a 73-67 loss.
"We knew every possession was going to be a war," K-State senior Xavier Sneed said. "I even told the team before the game that there will be a point where we are either up five or down five, and we just have to sustain, and be able to keep up our energy and our motion, but we just couldn't get it done today."
Offensive clunkers are nothing new for K-State, but there was hope things might be different. The Wildcats have played well at home of late and a loud group of students came out to cheer them on against a foe they had defeated six straight times.
But these Bears are different from the teams Scott Drew has coached in recent years. Baylor (20-1, 9-0 Big 12) hasn't lost since Nov. 8. This team is tough as nails on defense now that it switches between man and zone in every game. And it makes enough plays on offense behind star guard Jared Butler, who led his team with 20 points.
"Our guys did a great job coming out of the gates and starting out fast," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "Credit to Coach Weber and K-State for coming back. They have been playing really good basketball and we expected it to be one of those hard fought contests."
The Wildcats (9-13, 2-7) were at their worst in the early going, as they fell behind 22-6 and didn't make their first field goal until the 12:43 mark of the first half, when Antonio Gordon ended his three-game suspension and converted a driving layup.
A whole lot went wrong before that moment.
Everything that could go awry seemed to go awry for the Wildcats in the opening 7 minutes, 17 seconds of this game. A quick rundown: they missed all five of their shots from the field and also committed five turnovers. It was difficult for them to attempt shots, let alone make them. Then Cartier Diarra compounded matters by needlessly picking up a technical foul after missing a contested shot in the paint.
The Bears appeared on their way to an easy victory.
But things changed radically over the next few minutes. K-State began making smarter and aggressive plays and found a way to score 11 straight points. Baylor answered back with six straight of its own, but then K-State pulled to within three when Diarra, Montavious Murphy and Xavier Sneed nailed consecutive three-pointers.
K-State was suddenly playing with confidence and the home crowd was going bonkers.
The Wildcats fought back from a 16-point deficit and only trailed 33-28 at halftime.
But that was as close as they would come. The Wildcats missed their first four shots of the second half and didn't score until 15:34 remaining.
"We don't quit," Weber said. "We battle ... They just made more right plays than us and few too many turnovers make the difference in the game."
Sneed led K-State with 23 points and eight rebounds, while Diarra had 11 and Murphy and Makol Mawien both added 10 points.
MaCio Teague helped out Butler with 15 points for Baylor and Davion Mitchell added 13.
K-State is next in action on Saturday at Iowa State.