Kansas State holds on as No. 1 Texas falls to 17-1
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- More than 15 minutes after the final horn, thousands of Kansas State fans lingered in the stands to savor a hard-earned victory.
No floor-rushing celebrations, no hopping on the scorer's table, just a loud, sustained ovation.
Even against the nation's No. 1 team, Kansas State and its fans, many wearing fake beards in homage to high-scoring Jacob Pullen, expected to win.
Jamar Samuels scored 15 of his 20 points in a dominating first half and the Wildcats (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) withstood a gut check rally to knock off top-ranked Texas 71-62 on Monday night.
"Teams rush floors when they do something phenomenal," said Kansas State forward Curtis Kelly, who had 17 points and eight rebounds against one college basketball's best front lines. "It's flattering. They knew we were going to win. They didn't have to rush the floor because they believed in us."
Kansas State (16-2, 3-1 Big 12) had every reason to bow to the Longhorns, but instead smothered Texas with its extended man-to-man defense to overcome a 1-for-12 effort from 3-point range and held on to beat a No. 1 team for the third time in school history. Samuels added in 12 rebounds and freshman Rodney McGruder chipped in 11 key points for the Wildcats, who used a late 11-1 run to take control in their record 14th straight win at Bramlage Coliseum.
When it was over, the players celebrated on the floor -- by themselves.
"I think our fans understand we're not trying to celebrate in January," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "They're going to wait around and see what comes the rest of the season."
Texas (17-1, 3-0) matched Kansas State's defensive intensity, holding Kansas State to 38 percent shooting and bottling up high-scoring guards Pullen and Denis Clemente, who went a combined 4 of 24.
What killed the Longhorns -- and their short stay at No. 1 -- was offense.
Texas shot 36 percent from the field following a season-low 35 percent against Texas A&M, went 3 for 11 from 3-point range and hit just 9 of 22 at the free-throw line.
The Longhorns rallied from a 14-point first-half deficit with an early run in the second, but couldn't keep it going in their second week ever at No. 1, leaving No. 2 Kentucky (18-0) as the lone unbeaten team in Division I.
Avery Bradley had 11 points to lead Texas.
"We definitely played well enough defensively to win this game, but offensively, in the last two games, it's hurt us," Texas coach Rick Barnes.
Texas had passed every test on the way to its first No. 1 ranking.
The Longhorns beat North Carolina at Cowboys Stadium, Michigan State in Austin, and pulled out a tougher-than-expected road win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. It was a tough first week as the nation's top-ranked team against Iowa State and Texas A&M, but Texas still won both.
Monday's game represented the Longhorns' toughest task so far: on the road in a juiced arena against a top 10 team.
They didn't seem ready for it.
Uncharacteristically frazzled, Texas struggled against Kansas State's pressure and its own indecisiveness, shooting 10 of 33 from the field with 11 turnovers to trail by 10 at the half.
"I think they guarded pretty well, but we missed some wide open layups and some crucial free throws that could have turned the game around," said Texas guard Justin Mason, who took just four shots and had eight points.
Kansas State fans were certainly ready, lining up outside Bramlage Coliseum the night before the game, many sporting fake Abraham Lincoln beards -- a school giveaway -- and "Fear the Beard" T-shirts in honor of the fuzzy growth under Pullen's jaw line.
Pullen joined in the fun, too, trotting out to warmups with a faux Lincoln before revealing the real thing.
The Wildcats fed off the facial-fuzz energy early, using their aggressive defense to hound the Longhorns into turnovers and difficult shots.
Texas managed to keep it close for a little while before Kansas State put together the kind of run the Longhorns usually snuff out opponents with: 18-4.
Samuels was the key, slashing inside on drives and putbacks, capping the spurt with a 3-pointer that put the Wildcats up 36-22.
Texas, of course, made a run, but Kansas State made all the plays it needed down the stretch, setting off in-the-stands pandemonium in the Little Apple.
"That's what it's about," Martin said.
2022-23 Big 12 Conference Standings