The queen is the most powerful piece on the chessboard, but on Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum, no one piece could match the power of Texas’s Bishop.
All 14 of Christian Bishop‘s points came in the second half, including the go-ahead basket in the final minute, and he led a Longhorn charge from 14 points down in the first half to hand the Kansas State Wildcats their first home loss of the season by a 69-66 score.
“We let (Bishop) catch the ball in high-foul, high-score areas and he took advantage of it,” groaned Wildcats head coach Jerome Tang after the game.
The 14 points for Bishop were the most he had scored in a game in Big 12 play, and only the fifth time all season in 23 games he’d scored in double-figures. Sir’Jabari Rice added 14 points for the Longhorns, who preserved their one-game lead over Iowa State in the Big 12 standings.
K-State got 16 points from Keyontae Johnson, 11 points from Desi Sills, and 10 points from Markquis Nowell, but were left to bemoan 19 turnovers and a defensive breakdown that saw them surrender 44 points in the second half.
“They came out and were way more physical than we were and more aggressive than we were,” Tang said. “They killed us in the paint, and that was the difference in the game. We let them set the tone of the second half.”
Almost nothing went according to plan for K-State in the first half, as Johnson picked up two fouls just sixty-seven seconds into the game and Nowell made just one of his five field goal attempts. Still, thanks to the efforts of the rest of the Wildcats, the hosts led by as many as 14 points in the opening twenty minutes. Sills led the first half scoring effort with seven points and the Cats looked poised to take a 14-point advantage into the locker room before Tykei Greene fouled Rice on a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. Rice made all three free throws to cut the deficit to 36-25 at the intermission.
The Longhorns picked up right where they left off to start the second half, going on a 12-4 run before the under-16 media timeout to shave the Wildcat lead down to three. Rice and Bishop were the catalysts for Texas’s hot shooting, with Rice booking a pair of threes and Bishop scoring 11 points off the bench in the first 13 minutes of the half to give Texas a 58-52 lead with 7:32 to play.
K-State clawed back, tying the game on a Nowell mid-range jumper with just over three minutes left. Texas retook a 65-64 lead on a Rice free throw, but Nowell put the Cats in front by one with just over a minute to play with a running floater in the middle of the paint. That set the stage for Bishop’s go-ahead layup over Baybe Iyiola with 37 seconds left. K-State had a chance at the other end, but Nowell was blocked and the Cats turned it over on the offensive rebound. Rice made two free throws with nine seconds to play, and K-State’s last-ditch possession ended in an airball by Ish Massoud.
“We never want to lose at home,” fumed Tang in the postgame press conference. “Y’all always say that I’m always smiling. I hope they are as pissed off as I am right now about what just happened in the second half. If they’re not, they’re gonna figure it out.”
The Wildcats are have now lost three straight Big 12 Conference games and fall two games behind Texas in the league standings. They return to action Tuesday night as they play host to TCU.