Freshman guard Matt Coleman turned the corner near the baseline with his eyes on the rim.
With Texas trailing by two, the Longhorn point guard had an opportunity to tie or win the game against Kansas State on Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center in the final seconds. Coleman saw an opening and lobbed it up to freshman forward Mo Bamba, but the pass proved off the mark. The Wildcats collected the steal as Texas fell, 67-64, in another tight Big 12 game.
“It felt like our spirit wasn’t there all the way,” Coleman said. “We didn’t have enough energy going into the game. That just comes from within. They wanted it more than us.”
The matchup featured two teams trending in opposite directions. Texas (15–9, 5–6 Big 12) sat as close as it has been since 2016 to a top 25 ranking after Saturday’s home upset win over No. 12 Oklahoma. Kansas State, meanwhile, entered on a two-game skid, including a 38-point blowout at the hands of West Virginia.
Postgame show live from The Frank Erwin Center as Texas falls at home to Kansas State https://t.co/b5ady0FAXC— Daily Texan Sports (@texansports) February 8, 2018
The game saw another stellar performance from Bamba. The forward scored a game-high 18 points to go along with 12 rebounds in the loss.
“It hurts to lose at home,” Bamba said. “No game in this league is easy, but home games are supposed to be the ones you can lead in spirit compared to who you are going up against. When you drop one at home it hurts a little bit. But we gotta reset for TCU.”
Texas entered Wednesday knowing this was a game it couldn’t afford to lose. In a conference ripe with ranked opponents, a home matchup with a middle-of-the-pack program is a must-win situation for any team eyeing a NCAA Tournament bid.
The Longhorns looked to create separation in the opening minutes. Texas rattled off seven unanswered points to take control early, 14-7.
Texas never pulled ahead by more than seven before Kansas State began its rally.
The Wildcats closed the gap with the help of eight early turnovers from Texas. The Longhorns coughed up the ball on a series of unforced errors which led to 11 quick points at the other end.
Bamba provided a highlight block and staredown to cut into the lead, but the late surge from Kansas State couldn’t be slowed, and the two teams entered the break tied at 34. Texas head coach Shaka Smart was visibly upset and could be seen exchanging words with his starters on the final possession of the half.
“Disappointing to say the least,” Smart said. “It wasn’t like we didn’t practice well or the guys didn’t give effort. But you can kind of see on our faces tonight, we didn’t have the same collective spirit or will to come together and be about one thing.”
Texas came out sluggish in the second half. A quick four unanswered from the Wildcats had Texas playing catch up through the first five minutes.
The Longhorns reclaimed the lead with 14 minutes to play on a long three from junior guard Kerwin Roach II. After leading the charge for the Longhorns in the first half, Bamba was held scoreless through much of the second. In his absence, junior forward Dylan Osetkowski came alive, scoring eight points in the second half to keep the score close down the stretch.
With just under three minutes to play, the lead was a single possession for Kansas State. With one final, furious rally, junior guard Eric Davis Jr. buried a triple, but Coleman committed a crucial foul on the other end. The error gave the Wildcats the ball with 18 seconds left and no shot clock, forcing Texas to start intentional fouling.
Coleman missed his final shot, and Texas fell below .500 in conference play with a tough road rematch against TCU just three days away.
“Well I think one of the things that really good teams do, and winning teams do, is they have a good result and they say we want more,” Smart said. “That was something I really wanted to put front and center in front of these guys coming off of Saturday. But at the end of the day we didn’t display that tonight.”