Here’s how to lose a game in the last four seconds.
Step one: foul a three-point shooter, then give up the offensive rebound for a putback.
Step two: turn the ball over on the proceeding in-bounds.
Step three: allow the game-winning basket to be scored four feet away from the basket.
Kansas State turned a certain victory into an epic collapse in three seconds, with the final result a stunning, 58-56 loss to Texas Southern on Sunday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.
The performance snapped K-State’s 38-game winning streak at home in December, leaving all 12,528 in attendance on Sunday feeling the same as K-State senior forward Thomas Gipson afterward.
“I’m clueless,” he said. “I’m speechless.”
This was a game KSU led 56-52 with the clock running under 10 seconds. That’s when the Wildcats (7-5) began to come apart.
Texas Southern appeared to squander its chance of extending the game by dribbling around the perimeter with the clock dwindling. But Jevon Thomas provided the bail-out, slapping the wrist of Tonnie Collier’s desperation three-point attempt and was whistled for a foul with 3.8 seconds left.
Collier made the first two free throws, then purposely missed the third. On the box-out, Nino Williams crumbled to the ground, leaving Chris Thomas alone for the game-tying floater with 0.9 seconds left — a sequence that even left Texas Southern coach Mike Davis in disbelief.
“I mean, how many times do you miss a shot, get it back, and then put it in?” Davis asked.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Williams said. “He was probably a little bit stronger than me. I think my legs went under him, the ball took a good bounce to him, and he got it and scored.”
Overtime was assured with a successful in-bounds pass. But Jevon Thomas took another daring gamble that came up empty, throwing an erratic pass to Marcus Foster that fell out of bounds near midcourt without anyone touching it. That meant Texas Southern, once down four points with 3.8 seconds left, would have a chance for the win.
Davis drew up the same play he has all season and revealed to reporters afterward that it has not worked a single time. It was a simple screen and lob pass, and this time, it worked. Jason Carter caught the pass four feet away from the basket and the 6-foot-9 reserve big man easily dropped it in as time expired.
After a 5-minute review, referees confirmed the shot was good.
“We had the game won,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Obviously, some crazy things happened at the end.
“Sometimes everything goes against you and it was just one of those games. It’s disappointing to take.”
But this was not an unlucky loss, rather one that came about by a listless performance after taking leads of 9-0 and 15-4 in the opening minutes. K-State followed that with a forgettable, 23-minute stretch where it scored 19 points in 30 possessions and climbed into a 43-36 deficit with 10:32 remaining in the second half.
“We just lost emotion,” Williams said. “I think we got drunk on emotion and used all of our emotion up in the first couple of minutes.”
K-State appeared to salvage itself from the disarray with a 12-0 surge, started by Thomas with a three-pointer of the season and punctuated by Foster (game-high 17 points) with an emphatic slam dunk in transition.
All of that work came undone in the final 100 seconds, though, as K-State allowed a 54-48 lead to slip away. The culprit, again, was free throws, as it missed six of eight to close out the game.
This would ultimately be punished by a home loss to a team that entered with a 2-9 record, although Texas Southern had an upset at Michigan State to its credit.
“We shouldn’t have give them a chance to do that,” Williams said. “We let them stay around and when you give teams like that with good players at low-majors confidence, anything can happen.”
The consequences were never realized until one mistake piled on top of the next, and it was too late. Lack of passion, something that can be controlled, was cited by players as the cause to their demise.
So how disappointing does that make this loss?
“It doesn’t matter where it falls,” Gipson said. “We lost. It’s disappointing. That’s all that matters.”