For the third straight game, top-ranked Texas was pushed to its limit by a conference foe — but this time the Longhorns’ luck ran dry, their shots rimmed out, their free throws did not fall and their stars did not step up in a 71-62 loss at No. 10 Kansas State (16-2, 3-1 Big 12).
Texas (17-1, 3-1) dropped its first game of the year, leaving No. 2 Kentucky as the only unbeaten team in Division I.
Freshman Jordan Hamilton tied the game at 51 at the 7:28 mark of the second period. But it was the last time Texas would catch the Wildcats, who sank 12 free throws in the final five minutes to seal the victory.
A late scuffle resulted in two technical fouls, one for Texas’ J’Covan Brown and the other on Dominique Sutton of Kansas State, and the Wildcats’ Rodney McGruder sank the two ensuing free throws to put his team up by 11 with under 20 seconds. Afterwards, Dogus Balbay took the ball full-court and scored an uncontested layup to give the game its final score.
The Longhorns trailed by 14 at one point in the first half, their largest deficit all season.
The team shot 36 percent from the field, only slightly better than their season-low of 35 percent against Texas A&M last Saturday.
Texas turned the ball over 18 times, 11 in the first half, which led to 15 points by Kansas State.
Dexter Pittman, Texas’ second highest scorer, did not reach double digits in scoring for the fourth straight game. He finished with six points and seven rebounds. The Horns’ top offensive threat, Damion James, also struggled Tuesday, hitting just three field goals.
“We had open shots and we missed them,” Barnes said at halftime.
Texas scored eight straight points to begin the second period and finally took a short-lived 44-43 lead off a layup from Avery Bradley. Bradley scored a team-high 11 points, the only Texas player to break into double digits, while Jamar Samuels led the way for Kansas State with 20.
But then eight unanswered points from K-State threatened to tip the momentum in the Wildcats favor. Pittman stopped the bleeding with a fastbreak dunk followed by two quick Longhorn jumpers to make it a two-point game. After that, the Horns’ offense turned anemic — it was almost seven minutes before Texas hit its next field goal.