Kansas State 66, Texas Tech 45
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Lance Harris scored 20 points as Kansas State polished its NCAA tournament credentials with a 66-45 win on Friday over Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Cartier Martin added 17 points for Kansas State, which advanced to play No. 2 Kansas in a Friday semifinal. The Wildcats lost twice to their in-state rival this season, and Kansas has won 34 of the last 35 games in the series, dating to February 1994.
Despite a fourth-place finish and 10-6 league record, skeptics remained about whether Kansas State (22-10) deserved what would be its first NCAA tournament berth since 1996. Some had labeled the game between the Wildcats and Texas Tech (21-12) as a de facto elimination game for an NCAA berth, although league coaches have insisted that shouldn’t be the case.
The Big 12’s top three finishers—Kansas, Texas A&M and Texas—are considered tournament locks.
In the 11-year history of the Big 12, every team that has finished in the top four in the league standings and won at least 10 league games and 20 regular-season games has received an NCAA tournament bid.
Kansas State’s win total this season—its first under coach Bob Huggins— is its highest since its 1987-88 team won 25 games before losing to eventual national champion Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Against Texas Tech, the Wildcats dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Red Raiders 39-25. Of the Wildcats’ total, 12 came on the offensive end, giving them numerous second and third chances. Kansas State also shot well from outside, going 10-of-23 from 3-point range.
Texas Tech—which beat Kansas State 62-52 during the regular season— struggled offensively, shooting 32 percent and posting its lowest point total of the season. Jarrius Jackson, who scored 28 points, provided the Red Raiders’ only consistent offensive threat and had 10 of their 17 field goals.
Kansas State didn’t make its first basket until 5 1/2 minutes into the game, but heated up after that, shooting 52 percent in the first half, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.
Texas Tech’s last lead came at 23-22, on a three-point play by Jackson with 6:12 left in the half. The Wildcats used an 11-1 run to take a nine-point lead and led 33-26 at halftime.
Jackson provided the bulk of the Red Raiders’ offense in the half, scoring 17 points.
Texas Tech proved unable to take advantage when the Wildcats started the second half sluggish on offense.
Kansas State led 44-34 with 11:19 left, but a 17-5 run that included four 3-pointers—two each by Martin and Harris—pushed the Wildcats’ advantage to 61-39 by the 5:24 mark, and Texas Tech came no closer than 20 points the rest of the way.
Blake Young added 12 points for Kansas State, while David Hoskins had eight points and 12 rebounds.