MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State junior guard Cartier Diarra earned his first career Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week honor on Monday after scoring a career-best 25 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer with 22.4 seconds left, to help the Wildcats defeat Tulsa, 69-67, on Sunday.
Diarra is the first Wildcat to earn the Big 12’s weekly honor since Barry Brown, Jr., and Dean Wade won the accolade in back-to-back weeks on January 14 and 21, 2019. Overall, it marks the school’s 29th Player of the Week honor since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, including the 13th under head coach Bruce Weber.
“It was just staying confident,” said Diarra after his career-best performance on Sunday. “I know that early on I wasn’t shooting the ball well. The scouting reports are saying ‘He can’t shoot,’ and I know I’ve been a good shooter in the past. My freshman year, I think I shot 40 (percent from 3). Last year, I shot like 37, 36. I’ve got to get it back up and the only way to get that back up is shooting in the gym, practicing, working on it and of course, shooting in the game. I did miss five of them. I wish I didn’t miss those five, but I made ones that counted and what we needed to get the win.”
The 6-foot-4, 188-pound guard from Florence, S.C., Diarra collected his third 20-point game of the season in Sunday’s victory over the Golden Hurricane, connecting on 8-of-16 from the field, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, to go with a 3-of-4 effort from the line, a game-high 7 assists and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. His 6 3-pointers were a career-high and the most by a Wildcat since teammate Xavier Sneed knocked down 6 triples against West Virginia on Jan. 1, 2018. He now has at least 6 assists in 9 of 12 games this season.
For the season, Diarra is averaging 12.8 points on 40.6 percent shooting, including 31 percent from 3-point range, to go with 5.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals in 31.2 minutes per game. The team leader in assists and steals, he ranks second on the team in most offensive categories, including scoring, double-digit scoring games (7), field goals made (52), 3-point field goals made (18) and free throws made (31) and attempted (49).
K-State (7-5, 0-0 Big 12) opens up Big 12 play this weekend, as the Wildcats travel to Norman, Okla., to take on Oklahoma (8-3) at noon CT at Lloyd Noble Center. The game will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.