No. 6 K-State Battles to 63-53 Win

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Curtis Kelly had a double-double, Jamar Samuels scored 14 points and No. 6 Kansas State overcame a rough first 15 minutes to pull out a defense-dominated 63-53 victory over Missouri on Saturday night.

Kansas State (24-4, 11-3 Big 12) struggled with Missouri's pressure early, putting together its worst shooting half in 14 years (18 percent). The Wildcats used defense to shake the funk, took control with a 13-4 run early in the second half, and held on to keep alive their slim hopes of tying rival Kansas for the Big 12 regular-season title. The win also gave the Wildcats their most wins overall and in conference play for a season since 1987-88.

Kim English had 13 points and J.T. Tiller added 11 for Missouri (21-8, 9-5), which was 4 for 18 from 3-point range and shot 31 percent overall. Kelly had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Kansas State, which was 4 of 17 from 3-point range and shot 33 percent from the floor.

The Wildcats had trouble getting anywhere near the basket early, the ball in the hands of guards dribbling along the perimeter or high post players like Luis Colon, who didn't seem to want any part of it. That left Kansas State to force shots up inside against two and three defenders or hoist long jumpers.

The Wildcats missed the few open looks they got as well, opening the game 2 for 22 -- with 18 straight misses -- as Missouri built an 18-10 lead. Kansas State's frustration grew with each miss, leading to more forced shots.

Then, almost in the snap of a finger, the game took a 180-degree turn. Kansas State started finding seams in Missouri's defense, reeling off a 10-2 half-closing run started by Jacob Pullen's 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes left. The Tigers also got a dose of Kansas State's suffocating halfcourt defense and took their turn forcing shots, closing the half with nine straight misses.

By the time the first 20 minutes of basketball was done, the teams had combined to miss 49 of 64 shots and scored 46 total points. Kansas State and Missouri had at least 46 points in a half by themselves 26 times this season. And, you guessed it, it was tied, setting up 20 more minutes of physical basketball.