COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Missouri looked nothing like a team in turmoil against the last unbeaten school in the Big 12.
J.T. Tiller scored a career-high 20 points, including two key free throws with 6 seconds left, helping the short-handed Tigers overcome recent suspensions in the wake of a nightclub altercation to shock No. 22 Kansas State 77-74 on Saturday.
“Sometimes adversity can in some kind of a way have a positive effect on a team,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “Our kids, they’re fighting hard, they’re fighting together.”
Players know the crisis hasn’t passed yet. Anderson gave them an early curfew, with one day to prepare for a game at Kansas on Monday.
“We’ve got until 10 o’clock to enjoy the win,” forward DeMarre Carroll said.
Still missing three of the five players who were suspended, Missouri (13-9, 3-4 Big 12) shot 64 percent in the second half while forcing 10 of Kansas State’s 16 turnovers. The Wildcats led by 15 in the first half and by 14 early in the second.
“We started getting them to play the way we wanted them to play, up and down,” Tiller said. “We just said we were going to leave it on the line and we weren’t going to worry about fouls, and you saw the pace going faster and faster.”
Kansas State (15-5, 6-1) failed to capitalize on momentum gained from ending a 24-game homecourt losing streak to No. 2 Kansas three days earlier, and couldn’t overcome off-games from freshman stars Michael Beasley and Bill Walker.
Beasley had 17 points, eight below his average, and 10 rebounds. Walker, who averages 16 points, was held to 11 and nine rebounds, and missed a 3-point attempt with a chance to force overtime at the buzzer.
“We just laid down,” Beasley said. “We played like boys instead of men.”
Beasley entered with six consecutive games of 20 or more points, including two above 30 points, but coach Frank Martin said he’s been struggling with a jammed toe.
Martin and his players said the loss had nothing to do with a letdown from the Kansas victory.
“Here’s the deal,” Martin said. “You want to play Missouri on the road, you’d better not turn the basketball over, and we turned it over.
“If you do that on offense and just don’t defend, you have no chance to win.”
Leo Lyons, reinstated along with reserve forward Marshall Brown before the game, added 13 points, five assists and four rebounds for Missouri. The Tigers lost by four at home to Nebraska, which won its first Big 12 game of the season, on Wednesday with an eight-man roster.
Five players, including three starters, were suspended Tuesday after the early morning Jan. 27 incident that left leading scorer Stefhon Hannah with a broken jaw. Starting point guard Jason Horton was arrested for third-degree misdemeanor assault on Friday.
Lyons and Brown were at the nightclub in violation of team rules but judged not to have been involved in the fracas. The suspensions were not lifted for Horton and Darryl Butterfield, who watched in street clothes from the bench for the second straight game.
Hannah, who also has been suspended, is at home in Chicago recovering from an injury that could sideline him the remainder of the season.
Missouri frustrated Beasley throughout the game, double- and triple-teaming him whenever he touched the ball. Kansas State shot 57 percent in the first half, but only 39 percent in the second half after Missouri went to a zone defense.
“Oh man, he’s going No. 1 in the draft, you can say that for sure,” Carroll said. “He’s a strong player and he’s very unstoppable if you let him sit down there in the post and get offensive rebounds.
“We kind of got him out of his rhythm and that really helped us in the long run.”
Blake Young added 14 points for Kansas State, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range.
Kansas State twice led by 14 points early in the second half, but steadily frittered away the lead. The Wildcats committed three straight turnovers in one sequence and never led by more than four points in the final 5 minutes before Missouri tied it at 72 on a put-back by Carroll with 2:35 left.
Tiller took an outlet pass from Matt Lawrence off a missed shot for a layup and three-point play that made it 75-72 with 2:05 to go—the Tigers’ first lead of the game. Beasley scored on a follow shot to cut the deficit to one, but Fred Brown missed underneath with about 7 seconds left with a chance to take the lead, Missouri’s Matt Lawrence forced a jump ball with Walker and Kansas State had to foul because the Tigers had the possession arrow.
After the free throws from Tiller, Walker missed the long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“We’ve been in this position a lot of times this season, and we’ve lost some tough ones,” Tiller said. “We finished it this time.”