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Shorthanded Longhorns dismantle K-State, 82-67

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An explosive first-half run allowed Texas to capture — an ultimately maintain — a comfortable lead throughout much of the game.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Texas American-Statesman-USA TODAY NETWORK

Without three key contributors, including forwards Greg Brown III and Kai Jones, a shorthanded No. 4 Texas Longhorns squad had few issues with the also-shorthanded Kansas State Wildcats, turning an explosive first-half run into an insurmountable lead and ultimately, an 82-67 win.

The Texas offense opened the game in a decisive and efficient fashion, as Jericho Sims picked up where he left off with five early points to guide the Longhorns to an 8-2 edge. K-State quickly returned the favor with an 8-2 run of its own behind a pair of threes from Rudi Williams and Mike McGuirl.

But though Texas’ offense stumbled a bit following its fast start, settling for a few poor shots and committing two quick turnovers, the Longhorns didn’t relent their lead. Moments later, K-State threatened again with Carlton Linguard Jr.’s layup, converting KSU’s fourth field goal in five trips and capping a 10-4 run.

Fortunately for Texas, the action swung entirely in their favorably from this point.

With fewer options to share the wealth with, veteran guards Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey produced six quick points to pull Texas from its brief slump. The next six points belonged to Kamaka Hepa, who started in place of Brown and did so notably, knocking down back-to-back threes to complement his purposeful defense.

Joining Hepa in seeing significant minutes for the first time was senior guard Jase Febres, who made his first appearance of the season after undergoing knee surgery. Just as Hepa was finding his touch from deep, Febres did the same, extending the lead and run to 15 with his first three for a 27-12 Longhorns edge.

Coming out of the break, Andrew Jones connected on yet another perimeter look for three more of his 13 first-half points, increasing Texas’ run to 18-0 and a 30-12 cushion before DaJuan Gordon finally stopped the bleeding with a three.

Only two possessions later, Ramey found the net from deep before adding another three of his 12 first-half points in the final seconds of the half with an and-one jumper to give Texas plenty of breathing room at the half, 44-24.

To kick the second half off, it was Hepa’s turn to pick up where he left off, hustling for a quick steal before topping that with two more triples as Texas doubled KSU’s scoring total, 52-26. For at least a few moments, K-State attempted to keep pace and chip into the lead, but seemingly as soon as some progress was being made, Texas responded in emphatic fashion.

For the second time of the evening, Febres drilled a three to extend the lead back to 25. On Texas’ next trip down, Ramey lobbed an alley-oop off the backboard to Sims, who slammed home one of his numerous highlight dunks and effectively put the stamp on an insurmountable Longhorns lead.

A late 10-2 surge to close the contest allowed the final outcome of 82-67 appear closer than it actually was, but in aiming to bounce back from a last-second loss to No. 15 Texas Tech, Texas overwhelmed KSU out of the gates and rarely took their foot off the gas. And, of course, Texas’ imposing two-way performance came with the bulk of the frontcourt rotation sidelined.

In their place, Hepa enjoyed a career performance with 15 points of 5-8 from three. Sims added 14 points of his own on an efficient 6-7 from the field, while Ramey provided another 14 points on 5-7 shooting to complement his nine assists. Once again, Jones led the way with 19 points on 7-12 shooting, including 4-8 from deep.

Next up, the 11-2 Longhorns will travel to Ames to visit the 2-7 Iowa State Cyclones.