Texas roars back for 70-57 win over depleted Kansas State

Christina Huang, Sports Reporter

COVID-19 continues to shake up the world of athletics. 

The No. 14 Longhorns rolled into the Little Apple on Tuesday to face the depleted Kansas State Wildcats, who had seven scholarship players on their roster with the rest of the team out due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The Wildcats were also missing their head coach, Bruce Weber, because of COVID-19 protocols. 

But the unfortunate circumstances brought out some of the best basketball of the season from the Wildcats.

Kansas State had a solid first half to open up play. Wildcat sophomore guard Nijel Pack led both teams in scoring with 15 points. The Kansas State defense did not let up, refusing to let the Longhorns into the paint and forcing them to shoot 3-point field goals late in the shot clock. 

Shooting from behind the arc was a struggle for Texas, especially without senior guard Andrew Jones, who did not make the trip to Manhattan due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols. In the first half, Texas was only five for 17 from the 3-point line. 

Texas did not shoot a single free throw in the first half, while Kansas State had five attempts at the free throw line. Those trips to the line made a significant difference in the score, with Kansas State leading 35-29 at halftime. 

“We’ve been working hard on it as a team to get aggressive and try to get to the free throw line more, and I thought in the second half when we needed it most we did that,” Texas head coach Chris Beard said. 

Whatever Beard said to his team in the locker room during halftime clearly worked. 

Texas came back for the 70-57 win in the second half with a strong offense, shooting 54.2% compared to 38.7% in the first. The Longhorns notched 13 points from free throws in the second half and senior guard Marcus Carr led the offense with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. 

Carr, who was ranked the No. 1 player in the transfer portal during preseason, has been on a tear to begin conference play after a relatively quiet December. Prior to conference play, Carr’s last time scoring at least 15 points was Nov. 29 against Sam Houston State. But his scoring in Big 12 play has proven why he had such high expectations coming into this season. 

Fellow transfer and senior forward Timmy Allen scored 17 points and net a career-high 14 rebounds. Senior guard Courtney Ramey and junior forward Dylan Disu were also members of the double-digit scoring club. 

Kansas State seemingly ran out of steam in the second half. Pack was held to only six points in the second half, compared to 15 in the first. Fifth-year guard Mark Smith also fouled out in the second half to the Longhorns’ advantage. Smith was a key defensive player for the Wildcats, with two steals and five defensive rebounds. 

Texas powered through the depleted Wildcat roster to move to 12-2 on the season. This is the first time since the 2014-2015 season that Texas has opened to 12-2. On Saturday, the Longhorns will make the next stop on their two-game road trip as they head to Stillwater to play Oklahoma State.