MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — It has been feast or famine from the perimeter for Texas this season
Wednesday was a feast night for the Longhorns, who gorged themselves to the tune of 14 3-pointers as they won their Big 12 Conference opener for the 15th time in 23 seasons, pushing past short-handed Kansas State in the second half for a 67-47 victory.
Kansas State was without Kamau Stokes, who averages 11.1 points per game. Stokes missed much last season with a broken ankle and he reinjured the it during a morning shooting session and did not dress for the game. The Wildcats already were without Dean Wade, who is recovering for a foot injury.
Kace Febres hit 8 of 10 shots from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range, and scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half for Texas (9-4, 1-0 Big 12), which won for the fourth time in their last five games. Kerwin Roach II added 10 points in the winning effort.
“Our guys did a really good job of keeping a winning mindset,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “We talked about that before this game because Kansas State always does a very good job of making it hard on you.”
The Wildcats (10-3) have struggled offensively, averaging 67 points per game coming into conference play, and losing Stokes further hampered their ability to score.
“I think we could’ve done a little bit better even without (Stokes and Wade) in there,” Barry Brown said. “Just get the ball moving side to side, I think motion worked a little bit for a stretch.”
Makol Mawien had 12 points and was the lone Kansas State scorer to reach double figures.
“We talked about getting it to (Mawien),” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. “He struggled a little bit early in the game and maybe tried too much.”
It was a good night for Texas from the 3-point line, shooting 64 percent and going 14-27, with five of those coming in the final five minutes.
Texas used a 33-12 run to end the game after trailing by as many as five in the second half.
With 10 minutes to play, Febres hit back-to-back three’s to give Texas a 40-35 lead and the Longhorns never trailed again.
“Shot preparation is everything,” Febres said. “Coach preaches always to stay in my shot and to make sure I am not leaning back. I make sure to keep in my mind every look and the results were pretty good today.”
The Wildcats used a 14-4 run to end the first half and start the second to take a two-point lead with 13 minutes left in the game.
Midway through the first half, Texas switched to a zone defense that stifled the Wildcats. K-State only went to the free throw line once while Texas shot three free throws in the first half.
Kansas State will need to rely on their bench play much more to carry the through this stretch without Wade and Stokes.
Texas picked up a huge road win to start conference play. If they can shoot the ball that well most of the season they will be in great shape.
K-State will take on No. 11 Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock.