MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) – Texas did everything it could to help Kansas State rebound — both literally and figuratively — in snapping a two-game skid Wednesday night.
The Longhorns committed 18 turnovers, allowed the 18th-ranked Wildcats to dominate on the offensive glass, and then watched them pull away early in an 83-57 rout.
“It’s kind of demoralizing,” said Sheldon McClellan, who had 15 points to lead Texas. “It takes the energy out of the team. That’s what they wanted to do — they wanted to get rebounds. They’ve been getting outrebounded lately, but that wasn’t the case.”
Kansas State had 34 rebounds, 14 of them on the offensive end.
To Texas, it seemed like more.
“You’ve got a team that’s having a really good year, they’ve lost two in a row, a team that early in the year was as good a rebounding team as there was in the country, and the last couple games they’ve been hurt on the boards,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “You know it’s going to be a desperate game for them, but when you’re where we are, every game should be a desperate game.”
Thomas Gipson had 17 points off the bench, Omari Lawrence had a career-best 12, and Angel Rodriguez added 11 points and eight assists as the Wildcats (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) built a 38-19 lead by halftime despite playing long stretches without three key players.
Rodney McGruder, the Big 12’s third-leading scorer, picked up two fouls in less than 2 minutes and spent the rest of the half on the bench. Martavious Irving joined him with two fouls moments later, and Will Spradling went to the locker room after getting smacked in the head.
The Longhorns (9-11, 1-6) couldn’t capitalize, committing 18 turnovers.
“I had a lot of turnovers, Julien (Lewis) had a lot of turnovers, Javan (Felix) had turnovers, so we’ve just got to do a better job of taking care of the ball,” McClellan said.
Jaylen Bond added 12 points for Texas, most of them when the game had been decided.
The Longhorns, who snapped a five-game skid by beating Texas Tech last Saturday, still have not won a road game in five tries this season. They’ve also lost five of their last seven against the Wildcats, including three straight in Manhattan.
Kansas State tried to help them out with its early foul trouble.
McGruder couldn’t believe it when he heard two quick whistles, and neither could Bruce Weber when Irving joined him on the bench. The Wildcats’ first-year coach at one point got into a shouting match with officials that covered the entire width of the court.
“Not having him on the floor was supposed to give us confidence, and we were supposed to attack, but it worked out better for them,” McClellan said.
During one haphazard stretch, Texas turned the ball over five times in six possessions, and the one time it got a shot off, McClellan tossed up an air ball.
“You just don’t give yourself a chance,” Barnes said.
The Wildcats took advantage by putting together an 8-0 run. By the time Barnes called for a timeout, the Wildcats had pulled ahead 21-9 with 8 1/2 minutes left in the half.
Texas finally ended its drought when McClellan scored in transition, and in the process ran over Spradling. Trainers rushed out and pushed a towel against his bloody face, and after a few seconds on the bench, Spradling was accompanied to the Kansas State locker room.
Now without three key contributors, Kansas State continued to build on its lead.
Lawrence, who averaged just 2.4 points, matched his career high with 10 in the first half. Shane Southwell had his five first-half points during a stretch that included an intentional foul on Felix that helped Kansas State take a 31-13 lead.
“I don’t think you could ever predict Rod out with 2 minutes into the game, Will breaks his nose, and we’re up 19 at the half,” Weber said.
Texas had twice as many turnovers (12) as made field goals in the first half, going 6 of 23 from the field and missing both of its 3-point attempts. And its 19 points barely eclipsed the season-low for a half, 17 in the first half of a loss to Georgetown in December.
Felix finally got things going for Texas early in the second half, going straight to the rim for easy layups on three straight possessions. But McGruder, back on the court, made a three-point play with 17 1/2 left to put a stopper in the Longhorns’ momentum.
Gipson scored three straight baskets to answer another Texas salvo, and a pull-up 3-pointer by Spradling in transition pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 53-33 with less than 13 minutes to go.
Kansas State used a 14-2 run a few minutes later to put the game away.
“We knew they were going to try to play aggressive because they were just coming off two losses, so we wanted to come out and play aggressive and play hard, but that wasn’t the case today,” McClellan said. “We haven’t played a team like that yet.”
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