Kansas State got one of its injured playmakers back Saturday but still struggled on offense in a 63-57 loss at No. 11 Texas Tech.
Playing again without Big 12 preseason player of the year Dean Wade, the Wildcats fell into a huge hole early by missing their first 13 shots from the floor. Point guard Kamau Stokes returned, but scored seven points in 21 minutes, still limited by an injury.
To avoid a 0-3 start in conference play for the first time since 2015-16, K-State needs more scorers to emerge.
Barry Brown led the Wildcats with 16 points and Cartier Diarra added 11 on a day when they hit just 33 percent (19 of 57) from the field.
“We have to play smarter,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said after the game. “It’s one thing to play hard, it’s another thing to play smart.”
Kansas State (10-4, 0-2 Big 12) erased most of a 34-19 halftime deficit when Brown knocked down a three-pointer with 6:55 to go that pulled the Wildcats to within 43-42.
But Texas Tech (13-1, 2-0) found some offensive rhythm to pull away, despite some struggles at the free-throw line in the second half (15 of 23). Davide Moretti, who finished with 19 points, hit a series of big shots in the second half to account for 10 straight points and help the Red Raiders overcome 13 turnovers in the half.
He answered Brown’s long-range shot with a three-pointer 16 seconds later to trigger a 7-0 run. Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, who struggled against the Kansas State defense, gave his team a 53-43 lead with 2:21 to go when he hit three free throws.
Kansas State’s first basket came when Diarra got loose on a runout and hit a driving layup at the 9:12 mark. That basket triggered a brief Wildcats’ surge — seven points in 1:18 — as they clawed back to within 17-10.
Texas Tech hit a lull about that same time, missing seven field goals in a row after DeShaun Coprew buried a three-pointer at the 12:02 mark.
Moretti helped the Red Raiders get back on track when he hit a three, Culver made his only field goal of the first half on an offensive rebound and those shots helped Tech close the half on a 17-9 run.
The Wildcats head back home to take on West Virginia on Wednesday.