KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Led by four players in double figures, including a game-high 19 points from junior forward Xavier Sneed, No. 15/14 Kansas State took down TCU, 70-61, in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in front 18,930 fans at the Sprint Center.
K-State (25-7, 15-4 Big 12) reaches 25 wins for the seventh-time in program history, including the first time in consecutive seasons. The victory advances the Wildcats to the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship for the third-straight year to take on Iowa State (21-11) on Friday at 6 p.m., CT.
With four players in double figures, the Wildcats were led by a game-high 19 points from Sneed, who scored 16 points in the second half, in the victory. The team is now 13-1 this season when four or more players score in double digits. Sneed was joined in double-figures by senior guards Barry Brown, Jr., (12) and Kamau Stokes (11) and junior forward Makol Mawien (10). In addition, sophomores Cartier Diarra and Levi Stockard III each chipped in 8 points to pace an 18-point effort by the bench. It marked Diarra’s first game in more than 5 weeks.
With the win, K-State sweeps all 3 games against TCU this season, holding the Horned Frogs to under their scoring average in all three contests this season. On Thursday, the Wildcats held the Horned Frogs to 61 points on 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the field, while scoring 22 points off 18 turnovers.
Offensively, K-State shot 41.9 percent (26-of-62) from the floor and 32 percent (8-of-25) on 3-pointers. K-State benefitted from play off the bench, where the Wildcats outscored Horned Frogs, 18-6.
K-State erased a 12-point first-half deficit, bringing the score to a 34-32 TCU advantage at halftime. In the second half, the Wildcats spouted off a 17-2 run midway through the half to grab their first lead of the game, as they would bring their lead to as much as 10.
TCU (20-13, 7-11 Big 12) was led by junior guard Desmond Bane, who scored a team-high 16 points on 7-of-11 from the field and 2-of-3 on 3-pointers. Bane was joined in double-figures by senior Alex Robinson (12) and redshirt freshman Kevin Samuel (11).
HOW IT HAPPENED
TCU got started with a hot hand from beyond the arc, scoring its first 9 points from long range. K-State responded with a 3-pointer of its own from senior Kamau Stokes, as the Wildcats trailed 9-5 at the first media timeout.
While TCU got started hitting shots from deep, while K-State struggled to score, making 2 of its first 12 from the field, as the Horned Frogs went on a 9-0 run to take a 15-5 lead with 12:09 left in the first half.
With 8:06 left in the first half, Brown cut the margin to single digits on a 3-pointer from the corner in transition, forcing TCU to take a timeout with the score at 23-14. Minutes later, Brown connected on another 3-pointer to bring K-State to within just 8 at 25-17. Sophomore Levi Stockard III scored on consecutive K-State possessions to bring the score to 26-21 with 4:53 left in the half.
After a pair of TCU free throws, K-State drew up an alley-oop from Stokes to sophomore Cartier Diarra, providing a spark for the Wildcats.
K-State would then go on a 6-0 run, including a play where Brown saved the ball from going out-of-bounds by tossing it up-court, leading to a transition alley-oop from Diarra to sophomore guard Mike McGuirl. On the last play of the half, Sneed brought the Wildcats to within 2 points, connecting on a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired, with the score at 34-32, TCU.
The Wildcats ended the half shooting 40 percent (14-of-35) from the field, including 36.4 percent (4-of-11) from beyond the arc. K-State also benefitted from 14 points from its bench, including 8 points from Stockard, who tied a career-high in just 8 minutes of play.
In the second half, the K-State defense came to play, forcing TCU to make just 2 of its first 9 from the field, including a block from Mawien, which led to a layup by Brown in transition, bringing the score to 39-36 with 17:18 left in the half.
At the 14:48 mark of the second half, K-State grabbed its first lead of the game on a 3-pointer from Stokes, which put K-State ahead, 42-39. The Stokes 3-pointer contributed to a 17-2 run that put the Wildcats up 51-41 with 11 minutes left in the game.
After K-State opened up a 10-point lead, TCU went on a 7-0 run behind 5 points from junior Desmond Bane, to put TCU down just 3 points at 53-50 with 6:09 remaining.
With TCU lingering, Sneed made sure to distance the Wildcats from the Horned Frogs, scoring on a 4-point play after being fouled on a made 3-pointer. On the following possession, Sneed swiped a steal from TCU, leading to a layup by Stokes in transition, as K-State led 61-52 with 5:13 left in the game.
With under two minutes remaining, TCU drew to just 3 points, before Sneed nailed a contested 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring to give K-State a 66-60 lead with 56 seconds remaining. Sneed would go on to finish the game with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, as the Wildcats would defeat TCU, 70-61.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Xavier Sneed – Junior Xavier Sneed scored a game-high 19 points, including 16 in the second half, on 6-of-12 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. The 19-point performance tied a season-high and marks his 17th game in double-figures this season and 52nd of his career. He added 7 rebounds and 5 assists to his stat-line.
STAT OF THE GAME
25 – K-State reaches 25 wins for the seventh-time in school history, marking the first time in history the Wildcats have reached 25 victories in consecutive seasons.