NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma ended the game on a 12-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer from junior Austin Reaves with 1:38 to play, as the Sooners rallied late to hand Kansas State a 66-61 defeat in the Big 12 opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon before 8,012 fans at the Lloyd Noble Center.
K-State (7-6, 0-1 Big 12), which lost its fifth game by single digits this season, led for nearly 34 minutes before Reaves’ 3-pointer at the 1:39 mark gave Oklahoma (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) a 63-61 lead. The Wildcats could never re-establish their earlier momentum, missing 3 field goals and turning the ball over twice down the stretch, as the Sooners salted the game away at the free throw line, knocking down 3 of 6 attempts to finish off the 66-61 victory.
Senior Xavier Sneed led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-17 field goals, including 5-of-13 from 3-point range, but was hampered by foul trouble, playing just under 12 minutes in the second half. Junior Cartier Diarra also registered double figures points (10), while dishing out a game-high 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Freshman DaJuan Gordon enjoyed a solid outing in his first Big 12 game, scoring 8 points and grabbing 3 rebounds.
Reaves scored 18 of his team-high 21 points in the second half on 5-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, and went 5 of 6 from the free throw line. Reaves and senior Kristin Doolittle (19) combined for 40 of Oklahoma’s 66 points on 11-of-23 field goals and a 14-of-17 effort from the free throw line.
Trailing 61-54 with 3:45 to play after a 3-pointer by DaJuan Gordon, the Sooners started their run of 12 consecutive points to end the game with a layup from freshman De’Vion Harmon on the next possession. Reaves and junior Brady Manek followed with buckets before Reaves’ game-deciding 3-pointer. During this final stretch, the Wildcats missed 5 field goals and had 3 turnovers.
For the game, K-State connected on 34.9 percent (19-of-51) from the field, including 32.4 percent (12-of-37) from 3-point range, while tying a season-high with 12 3-point field goals on 37 attempts – the most by a Wildcat team under head coach Bruce Weber. Oklahoma made just 37.3 percent (19-of-51) of its field goals, including 21.7 percent (5-of-23) from long range, but went a stellar 23-of-29 from the free throw line.
The Wildcats dropped to 9-15 all-time Big 12 openers, including 3-11 when debuting away from home. Today’s game marked the 14th time that K-State and Oklahoma have met in a conference opener with the Sooners now leading those meetings, 9-5, including 5-1 at home.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The two teams went back and forth in the early going with K-State holding a slight 8-7 lead at the first media timeout behind solid shooting from beyond the arc. Senior Makol Mawien opened the game with a 3-pointer from the left corner on the Wildcats’ first possession, while fellow senior Xavier Sneed followed 2 minutes later.
K-State built a 13-7 lead with a 3-pointer from junior Mike McGuirl – the team’s third of the half – at the 14:42 mark, but Oklahoma rallied for 6 straight points to tie the game at 13-all at the second media timeout.
The Wildcats went into the third media timeout with an 18-13 behind consecutive buckets by freshman Antonio Gordon and junior David Sloan but was not able to gain in traction with a nearly 3-minute scoring drought. Fortunately, the defense was locked in, holding the Sooners to a nearly 5-minute drought.
A 6-0 run, including consecutive jumpers, gave Oklahoma a 19-18 lead forcing head coach Bruce Weber to call his first timeout at the 5:26 mark. A pair of free throws by Sneed ended K-State’s scoring drought at more than 5 minutes with 5:13 before the half for a 20-19 edge. A 3-pointer by freshman Montavious Murphy – the team’s fifth triple all by 5 different players – helped the Wildcats to a 23-19 lead at the 4:10 mark.
Back-to-back jumpers by DaJuan Gordon extended the K-State lead to 27-22 while a 3-pointer by Sneed tied the team’s largest lead at 6 points — 30-24 — with 1:53 before the half. Oklahoma closed to within 2 points on two occasions with its stellar free throw shooting (10-of-10), but a 3-pointer by junior Cartier Diarra propelled the Wildcats to a 33-30 halftime advantage.
Seven of K-State’s 12 field goals in the first half came from 3-point range, as the team connected on 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from the field, including 43.8 percent (7-of-16) from long range. Oklahoma was held to just 37.5 percent (9-of-24) shooting, including 18.2 percent (2-of-11), but was stellar from the line (10-of-10). Senior Kristian Doolittle led all scorers with 13 points for the Sooners, while Sneed paced the Wildcats with 10 points.
Mawien started off the second half with a layup before K-State rallied off 8 consecutive points, including consecutive 3-pointers from Diarra and Sneed, extended the lead to 43-33 at the 15:40 mark.
After the lead was at its largest at 44-33, Oklahoma cut into the lead with 6 consecutive points, including 4 from the free throw line, to close to within 44-39 with 11:39 to play. However, Sneed responded with a rare 4-point play then followed with another triple to push the lead back out to 51-41 at the 10:59 mark.
The Sooners once again chipped away at the deficit, using 7 straight points to key an 11-4 run, to close to within 55-54 on a 3-pointer by junior Austin Reaves with 5:06 remaining. The Wildcats responded with 6 consecutive points, including a huge trey by DaJuan Gordon to push back out at 61-54 at the 3:45 mark.
Freshman De’Vion Harmon started Oklahoma’s 12-0 run to end the game with a lay-up on the next possession, which was followed by field goals by Reaves and junior Brady Manek, before Reaves’ 3-pointer with 1:39 to play gave the Sooners a 63-61 lead. K-State could get nothing going down the stretch with 5 misses from the field and 3 turnovers, as Oklahoma went 3-of-6 from the free throw line to finish off the 66-61 victory.
The Wildcats connected on just 29.4 percent (10-of-34) in the second half, including 23.8 percent (5-of-21) from 3-point range, while the Sooners hit on 37 percent (10-of-27), including 25 percent (3-of-12) from long range. Reaves scored 18 of Oklahoma’s 36 second-half points, while Sneed had 12 of K-State’s 28.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Xavier Sneed led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-17 field goals, including 5-of-13 from 3-point range, to go with 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. It marked his seventh career 20-point game, including his third this season.
Junior Cartier Diarra had a solid all-around game with 10 points, a game-high 7 assists and 6 rebounds in 34 minutes. He has now posted at least 6 assists in 8 of 12 games this season.
STAT OF THE GAME
23 of 29 – The Big 12’s top free throw shooting team, Oklahoma connected on nearly 80 percent of its 29 attempts (23) of the day, including a perfect 10-of-10 effort in the first half. K-State managed just 9 attempts with 5 makes, as the Wildcats were whistled for 23 personal fouls.