In a finish all too familiar for the 2016-17 Texas Longhorns, Shaka Smart’s bunch came up just short, falling to Kansas State 64-61 after Kerwin Roach Jr.’s last-second heave missed wide right.
The matchup began as a shootout, with the Wildcats connecting on 16-21 first half field goals, including 7-8 from the perimeter, while Texas, too, found success from deep, hitting 6-9 first half looks.
Following a 39-36 halftime deficit, Texas suffered through one of it’s common offense droughts, scoring just three points in the first 7:25 of the second half. In a moment that sparked the most passionate emotion we’ve seen from Jarrett Allen this season, a trend of physical defense capped with K-State’s Austin Budke sending Allen to the floor with a Flagrant 2 foul.
At this point, Texas trailed 48-39.
After converting just 1-2 free throw attempts, graduate transfer Mareik Isom became Texas’ unsung hero, piecing together a string of critical plays beginning with a three-pointer following the flagrant foul on Allen and a pair of blocks on the other end on the subsequent possession.
Behind missed opportunities and inconsistent shooting, though, Texas managed to reel off just a 7-0 run following the momentum-changing foul, despite K-State missing eight-straight field goals. But per usual, sparked by the aforementioned run, Texas once again found itself right in the thick of the game with a chance to win down the stretch. What was a 55-50 Wildcats lead with 5:06 remaining became a 57-57 nail-biter with 3:26 to play after an Andrew Jones prayer three-pointer as the shot clock buzzer expired. A Kamau Stokes jumper was then answered by a Jones jam in transition to tie things up at 59 with a minute and a half to play.
Later down the stretch, A Barry Brown floater to give Kansas State a 61-59 edge was answered the following possession with an Allen layup wit 19 ticks remaining for a 61-61 game. But ultimately, after snagging just one rebound and totaling six points through all but the final 1.6 seconds of the game, senior D.J. Johnson was fouled on an offensive rebound tip-in, which was initially ruled a foul on the floor before being deemed an and-one.
Following Johnson’s made free throw, Texas struggled to get the ball in-bounds, despite coming out of a timeout, and Roach was forced to field the ball about 90 feet from the basket and send a prayer up; one that was unanswered this time in Austin, sending Texas to 3-7 on the season in games decided by three or fewer points.
Kendal Yancy provided an offensive spark off the bench for Texas, scoring 13 points after averaging just 4.9 per game, while Allen added a quite 12 points and four rebounds. No other Longhorn reached double figures, though Isom finished with a season-high eight points and four boards.
For Kansas State, Stokes, Brown and Wesley Iwundu contributed 14, 15, and 16 points, respectively, though the remaining Wildcats added just 19 total points.
When it was all said and done, KSU shot greater than 50 percent from the field (23-42) and the perimeter (8-15), while Texas also shot with tremendous efficiency from deep (8-14).
As has often been the case for Texas this season, offensive lapses and failing to capitalize on various opportunities resulted in the ‘Horns dropping their 17th game of the season to reach 10-17 (4-10). The final stretch features a road game against No. 9 West Virginia, a home game versus No. 3 Kansas, another road trip to face Texas Tech and a season finale at home against No. 4 Baylor.
Unless Texas can pull a major upset or sneak a victory in the Big 12 tournament, it’s likely the ‘Horns finish the season 10-22 on an eight-game losing streak.