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Awful defensive showing sinks No. 6 Texas in 116-103 loss to Kansas State

Markquis Nowell scored 36 points for the Wildcats to spoil the conference home opener for the Longhorns at the Moody Center.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

AUSTIN — The poor defensive trend line for the No. 6 Texas Longhorns under acting head coach Rodney Terry continued on Wednesday in the Big 12 home opener at the Moody Center on Tuesday as the Longhorns fell to the Kansas State Wildcats, 116-103.

The 116 points scored by Kansas State tied the Big 12 record set in a five-overtime game between Baylor and Texas A&M in 2008. It was also “the most points by an unranked team in a road win against an AP Top-10 team in the poll era (since 1948-49).”

Kansas State shot 61 percent from the field, 56.5 percent percent from the three-point line, and 93.9 percent from the free-throw line in a game the Wildcats led by as many as 20 points before holding off an attempted comeback by the Longhorns in the second half. To close Texas out, Kansas State made 23-fo-25 free throws in the second half (92 percent) despite entering the game shooting 70.3 percent from the charity stripe. Only one other team since 2010 has shot better than 90 percent from the line with more than 30 attempts while also shooting better than 60 percent from the field.

The two best players on the floor at the Moody Center were Kansas State guard Markquis Nowell and forward Keyontae Johnson. Nowell scored a career-high 36 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-9 shooting from distance, while hitting all 12 attempts at the free-throw line and dishing out nine assists. Johnson scored 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists.

For Texas, guard Tyrese Hunter snapped out his recent shooting slump with 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-8 shooting from three, and guard Marcus Carr matched Hunter with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting with six assists, but it wasn’t enough to avoid an 18-point halftime deficit or climb back into the game in the second half as Kansas State shot 57.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.

Both teams opened the game scoring on three-point baskets, with the make by Hunter ultimately a good sign after his recent struggles and a 30.4-percent mark on the season. Two layups by Kansas State center Abayomi Iyiola, a three-point play by forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin and a layup by Johnson gave the Wildcats a 12-3 lead forced an early timeout by acting Texas head coach Rodney Terry as the Longhorns turned the ball over on two of the first six possessions and missed two free throws.

Hunter broke the 9-0 run by Kansas State with a more productive trip to the line, making both, but the Wildcats remained hot from the field with a made jumper after Hunter gambled on a steal and missed and Johnson scored on a driving take for a 16-7 margin at the under-16 timeout.

Other than a fast-break dunk by Kansas State after Carr had the ball stolen in the open court, Texas showed improved defensive intensity after the first media timeout, including forcing a timeout on an inbounds pass. After forward Christian Bishop hit two free throws, a block in the paint led to a transition three for guard Sir’Jabari Rice and the Moody Center’s first heavy involvement in the proceedings. Johnson responded with a mid-range jumper, Hunter made a basket, and Kansas State guard Desi Stills hit a three before a shooting foul against Texas forward Timmy Allen sent the game into the under-12 timeout at 23-17 with 16 of the first 19 points for the Wildcats scored in the paint.

Allen split his trip to the line and Texas applied some fullcourt pressure after the make, but Kansas State was able to break it down quickly, but missed the layup and was unable to save the ensuing offensive rebound. Although the pick-and-roll defense was struggling for the Horns, Texas continued to attack the basket offensively as Bishop drew another foul, the seventh on Kansas State, putting the Longhorns in the bonus at the 10:12 mark. A high screen produced a three for the Wildcats, then a turnover by Hunter produced a three-point play by Cam Carter. When Nowell hit another three, Terry was forced to call another timeout with Kansas State leading 34-19 thanks to a second 9-0 run and a field-goal drought for Texas that extended past three minutes.

Forward Dillon Mitchell finally broke the poor stretch from the field with a putback of his own miss, the first made basket in four and a half minutes. Hunter followed with a three in transition, Mitchell had a resounding putback slam, and Carr hit a three, but the Longhorns weren’t getting stops as the Wildcats made three straight baskets of their own to keep the lead at 15 points at the under-eight timeout, which came at the 5:05 mark after a long stretch of uninterrupted play.

The defense remained poor for both teams in a short stretch before the next media timeout with Texas getting outscored 5-4 thanks to the free throws from the pre-timeout foul and a three, the seventh of the first half for Kansas State on their first 11 attempts.

Seven straight point by Allen failed to narrow the margin as the Wildcats made another layup and another three in a 6-of-8 shooting stretch only somewhat mitigated by two straight turnovers. Four late free throws by Kansas State sandwiched around a jumper by Carr sent Texas into the home locker room at the Moody Center down 58-40 having allowed the Wildcats to shoot 63.6 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from three-point range while notching a 22-10 advantage in points in the paint and a 16-6 advantage in assists.

Texas started the second half hitting 5-of-6 shots from the field to cut the Kansas State lead to 12 points, but the Wildcats hit an open three to stem the momentum before exchanging layups, then Nowell hit another in transition after Carr missed from deep to push the lead back to 18 points at the under-16 timeout.

As the Longhorns cooled off from the field, the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run during a stretch of five consecutive made baskets, a streak that reached six when Nowell threw a shot in off the backboard while facing the other basket.

Texas responded with a 10-0 run across the under-12 timeout as Kansas State hit a brief scoring drought and the Longhorns got the deficit back into single digits by hitting six consecutive shots. Stopping Johnson remained a problem, however, with the Wildcats star scoring five straight points before his teammates got involved with exchanging baskets until the under-eight timeout, at which point Kansas State maintained a 10-point lead.

Free throws by Johnson pushed the lead back up to 12 points out of the break, but Texas used a trip to the line from Hunter and a transition three-point play by Rice to cut the margin to seven points. Then a late rotation by Mitchell led to two made free throws by the Wildcats, Hunter was called for a questionable charging foul, and Nowell got to the rim for a layup. Texas guard Brock Cunningham hit an important three to make it an eight-point game, the team’s 11th consecutive basket, but Kansas State quickly knocked down their own three for a double-digit lead once again.

Carr kept the streak going by hitting a three before missing a heat check that led to a shooting foul on Texas at the other end and more made free throws by Kansas State. Nowell hit two more free throws after the under-four timeout and the leda was back up to 12 points for the Wildcats. A three off the bounce from Nowell with 2:43 remaining sent Texas fans heading towards the exits at the Moody Center before the Longhorns futilely fouled hoping for a miracle, but the Wildcats kept hitting free throws on the way to the comfortable win.