KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Led by four players including a game-high 19 points from junior forward Xavier Sneed, No. 15/14 Kansas State took down TCU, 70-61, in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship quarterfinal, in front 18,930 fans at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
K-State (25-7, 15-4 Big 12) reaches 25 wins for the seventh-time in program history, including the first time the Wildcats won 25 games or more in consecutive seasons. The victory advances K-State to the Big 12 Championship semifinal round for the third-straight year, as the Wildcats will face Iowa State on Friday at 6:00 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 to steer the Wildcats to victory. Sneed was joined in double-figures by senior guards Barry Brown (12), Kamau Stokes (11) and junior forward Makol Mawien (10). In addition, sophomore forward Levi Stockard III tied a career-high in scoring with 8 points in 11 minutes of play.
K-State sweeps the season series against TCU, holding the Horned Frogs to under their scoring average in all three contests this season. On Thursday, K-State held TCU to 61 points on 44.2 percent (23-of-52) from the field, while forcing them into 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 they outscored TCU, 18-6.
The Wildcats 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, 7-12 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 their first 9 points from long range. K-State responded with a 3-pointer of their own from senior Kamau Stokes, as the Wildcats trailed 9-5 at the first media timeout.
While TCU got started hitting shots from deep, K-State struggled to score, making 2 of their first 12 from the field, as TCU went on a 9-0 run to put K-State behind 15-5 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, TCU.
Minutes later, Brown connected on another 3-pointer to bring K-State to within just 8 at 25-17. On the next possession, Stockard 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 and 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 their 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 their 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 K-State 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 – Scoring 16 points in the second half, adding to his 19 point total, Xavier Sneed shot 6-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-8 on 3-pointers to lead K-State to victory. The 19-point performance ties a season-high and marks his 17thgame in double-figures this season and 52ndof his career. Sneed 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.
SEASON RECORD UPDATE
K-State 25-7 (15-4 Big 12)
TCU 20-13 (7-12 Big 12)
K-State advances to the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship where the Wildcats will take on No. 4 seed Baylor (19-12) or No. 5 seed Iowa State (20-11) at 6 p.m., CT on Friday at the Sprint Center.
— This story will be updated —
Source: Kansas State Sports