K-State's Rally Falls Short at Tennessee, 65-64

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A furious Kansas State rally fell short on Saturday afternoon, as Tennessee held off the comeback for a 65-64 win in a SEC/Big 12 Challenge game before 14,111 at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Down 57-45 with 3:42 remaining, the Wildcats out-scored the Volunteers, 19-8, down the stretch to close to with 65-64 on sophomore Marcus Foster’s career-tying seventh 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds. However, Tennessee was able to inbound the ball and run out the clock to stave off the comeback. Foster scored 12 of K-State’s 19 points during the rally as he went 4-of-4 from beyond the arc in the final 57 seconds.

The Basics
Final Score: Tennessee 65, Kansas State 64
Records: Kansas State (4-4, 0-0 Big 12); Tennessee (3-3, 0-0 SEC)
Attendance: 14,111 (paid)
Next Game: Tuesday, Dec. 9 \\ vs. Bradley \\ 7 p.m. CT \\ ESPN3

The Short Story
•    Foster paced three Wildcats in double figures with his third 20-point game of the season and the 11th in his career with a game-high 23 points, which included a career-tying 7 3-point field goals. He also connected on 7 treys vs. Baylor on March 8, 2014 as a freshmen. He now has a Big 12-high 28 3-pointers.
•    Sophomore guard Jevon Thomas eclipsed his career-high for the second straight game with 13 points to go with a team-high 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in a career-high 33 minutes.
•    Senior Nino Williams posted a near double-double with 10 points and a game-high 8 rebounds.
•    Tennessee forced K-State into a season-high 22 turnovers, converting those miscues into 21 points, while allowing the Wildcats to score just 10 points off its 10 turnovers.
•    In addition to winning the battle of points off of turnovers, the Volunteers held a 28-14 advantage in the paint and out-scored Wildcats, 26-8, in bench points.
•    Tennessee posted opponent season-highs for blocked shots (9) and steals (12).

How It Happened  |  First Half
•    In a game in which neither team could find a rhythm, Tennessee seized the early lead and built as much as a nine-point cushion at 23-14 with 1:27 remaining the half before heading into the locker room up 25-17.
•    K-State went over 11 minutes without a field goal from a lay-up by junior Justin Edwards at the 15:06 mark to a lay-up by Thomas with 3:39 before halftime. During the stretch, the Wildcats missed seven straight field goals and turned the ball over eight times.
•    K-State’s 17 first-half points were a season-low and fewest since scoring 16 vs. Kansas on March 16, 2013… Thomas led all Wildcat scorers with 6 points.
•    Neither team shot the ball well in the first half… K-State connected on a season-low 25 percent (5-of-20) from the field, including 0-of-7 from 3-point range, while Tennessee connected on 35.7 percent (10-of-28), including 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from beyond the arc.
•    The Volunteers scored 11 points off of a season-high 13 turnovers in the first half.

How It Happened  |  Second Half
•    After Tennessee pushed the lead back out to nine early in the second half, K-State used a 12-3 run to close within a possession on a Williams’ jumper with 15:13 to play.
•    Tennessee responded with a 13-3 run to again push the lead out to eight at the 11:44 mark.
•    The Wildcats would close to within 41-38 with 9:51 to play, however, like they had all day, the Volunteers responded by extend the lead, scoring 16 of the next 23 points over the next nine minutes to take their largest lead at 57-45 with 3:42 remaining.
•    Facing the large deficit and time winding down, K-State started its furious comeback with a Thomas Gipson jumper at the 2:25 mark. Thomas followed with his first 3-pointer of the game at the 1:35 mark before Foster was able to knock down four treys in the final 57 seconds.  
•    The rally was aided by three turnovers and four missed free throws by the Volunteers.
•    Senior Josh Richardson, who led Tennessee with 17 points, knocked down a pair of free throws for the game-clinching points with 17 seconds left.
•    After an offensively-challenged first half, both squads combined for 87 points in the second half. K-State scored 47 points on 51.7 percent (15-of-29) shooting, including 57.1 percent (8-of-14) from 3-point range, while Tennessee totaled 40 points on 48 percent shooting from the field.

Beyond the Boxscore
•    With the loss, K-State saw its streak of 12 straight wins in December end and fell to 14-2 in the month under head coach Bruce Weber… It was the first December loss since falling to No. 14 Gonzaga, 68-52, at KeyArena in Seattle on Dec. 15, 2012.
•    The loss also ended the Wildcats’ streak of five straight true road wins in December… It was the first road loss in the month since a 75-70 loss at Oregon on Dec. 7, 2008.  
•    K-State is now 25-9 in non-conference play under Weber, including 1-2 in true road games.
•    K-State fell to 1-4 on the season when trailing at the half.
•    K-State dropped its first meeting on the hardwood vs. Tennessee and is now 158-146 all-time against the SEC, including 47-81 on the road.
•    K-State has scored at least 47 points in the second half in five of eight games, while the team connected on better than 50 percent from the field in the second half for the sixth time.
•    After out-scoring its opposition, 107-58, in points off turnovers in the first five games, K-State opponents have now returned serve to post a 73-34 edge in the category in the last three games.
•    Despite K-State’s loss, the Big 12 Conference was able to win the second annual SEC/Big 12 Challenge for the second consecutive season with a 6-4 mark.

•    “You have to give credit to Tennessee. They play hard, and we told our guys that. They don't let you run your stuff. You have to play basketball. You can't win games on the road with 22 turnovers. We missed some shots early, but I thought we guarded well early. I think our offensive struggles got to us mentally, and then we broke down. In the second half, we started well by cutting it to two. Then we broke down again. You have to give our guys credit for continuing to play. They competed, but we have to play better to beat a team like that on the road.” said head coach Bruce Weber.   

Up Next
•    K-State begins a two-game homestand on Tuesday, as the Wildcats play host to Bradley at Bramlage Coliseum. Tip is set for 7 p.m. CT and will air exclusively on ESPN3.