STILLWATER, Okla. — Xavier Sneed had an opportunity to give Kansas State the lead and blew it.
The senior guard was all alone on his way to the basket for what should have been an easy scoring attempt. All he had to do was make a simple layup or two-handed dunk to put the Wildcats ahead of Oklahoma State late in the first half of their men's basketball game on Wednesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Instead, he attempted a windmill slam and missed, an error that led directly to an easy basket for the Cowboys on the other end.
That type of blunder would feel like a season-defining moment for any other struggling team, but that's not the first time this has happened for these Wildcats. This 69-63 loss brought back memories of the Wildcats' defeat at Texas Tech a few weeks ago when Cartier Diarra had the exact same blooper-reel miss.
You haven't seen many K-State highlights on ESPN lately, but it has produced some must-see lowlights.
"It's disappointing, obviously," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "Just go make it, make an easy layup or a dunk. But it happened and there isn't much you can do about it."
That sequence swung momentum and the game Oklahoma State's way. Instead of taking a 24-23 lead, the Wildcats fell behind 26-23 and only led for a few moments in the second half.
It was an appropriate way for K-State (9-21, 2-15 Big 12) to make school history for the wrong reasons. Wednesday's loss gave the Wildcats their most losses in a single season, surpassing the team that went 4-20 in 1946. They also set a program record for conference losses in a season, breaking the record of 14 that was previously set in 2000.
With two more losses, K-State can also set a record for consecutive defeats. K-State has lost 10 straight dating back to its final game of January. Few saw this coming a year after the Wildcats shared a Big 12 championship with Texas Tech behind Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade last season.
"It's not fun," Weber said. "It's disappointing. We have done some unbelievable things here, things that haven't been done as far as K-State basketball in a long, long time. I am very proud of that. I am very disappointed in this year. That's my fault. I'm the coach. Players get credit when you win. When you lose, it's the coach. That's my fault for not doing what I needed to do to get us to where we could have a more successful season."
Oklahoma State (16-14, 6-11) continued its late-season resurgence behind a big game from Cameron McGriff, who led the Cowboys with 14 points. He also had an emphatic dunk that propelled his team to victory instead of a miss that defined a loss.
With 3 minutes, 50 seconds remaining, he rose high above the rim and slammed home a put-back dunk that brought the home crowd to its feet and gave the Wildcats a 62-51 lead.
"Just sticking to the game plan," McGriff said. "We knew after a while our defense would wear them down. We had to make some adjustments throughout the game. We were making their catches a little too easy. In the second half, once we ramped up a few things on offense, we were all good."
His dunk put an exclamation point on a stellar stretch for the Cowboys.
When David Sloan hit an open three-pointer to give K-State a 48-44 lead midway through the second half, the Wildcats seemed well-positioned to steal this game and end their losing streak.
They were playing strong on defense, making free throws and coming through with a few timely shots. But, like they have too often this season, they entered a long scoreless drought that allowed Oklahoma State to take control.
"It's very humbling," K-State junior Mike McGuirl said. "We came into this season with high expectations. Seeing things happen the way they have has been pretty unexpected. As a basketball player who loves the game, and all of my teammates love the game, we just have to learn from this. We have to learn not to take anything for granted."
In the minutes after K-State pulled ahead by four, Oklahoma State answered back with an 18-3 run that featured a pair of three-pointers from Thomas Dziagwa and several big plays from his teammates.
The cold-shooting Wildcats couldn't keep up, going nearly 8 minutes between field goals.
Cartier Diarra led K-State with 16 points.
But when he hit a driving layup at the 2:44 mark of the second half, it was too late. The Wildcats were trailing 64-55.
Missed opportunities loomed large for K-State, including a blown dunk in the first half.
"I don't know if I have much emotion left, I will be honest," Weber said. "We have gotten blown out a couple times, but a lot of other people in our league have been blown out a lot more than us. We are right there. That takes the emotion out of you. I have always prided myself on getting guys to play together and play hard and guard and give themselves a chance. I guess I haven't done a good enough job with this group."