KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas State couldn’t bring home the bacon Monday night. Instead, it was No. 13 Arkansas living high on the hog.
The Razorbacks led wire-to-wire in a 72-64 win over the Wildcats in the Hall of Fame Classic at the T-Mobile Center.
"Credit to them," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "If you've watch their games, they've gotten behind to almost every team, even their exhibition games. East Central had them by 14 even into the second half. But they came out and attacked us. They were in attack mode. Their pressure was really good. It disrupted us.
K-State couldn’t keep up the unranked magic from the event’s first game: Cincinnati buried No. 14 Illinois, 71-51, to advance to Tuesday’s championship contest. With Monday’s loss to Arkansas, K-State (2-1) will face Illinois in the consolation game Tuesday.
Despite suffering their first loss of the 2021-22 season, the Wildcats made things interesting late.
After trailing by as many as 18 points on multiple occasions, a spirited rally helped K-State draw within six points twice in the second half. But the Wildcats simply didn’t have a shovel big enough to dig out of the slop they created in the first half.
K-State fell behind 10-2 barely three minutes into the game. When the clock ticked under eight minutes in the first half, K-State had just 11 points — averaging less than a point per minute. By that time, the Razorbacks (4-0) already led by 17, 28-11.
At the halftime buzzer, K-State trudged into the locker room trailing 42-24.
In the final 12 minutes, the Wildcats’ offense came alive.
Down 53-36 after a dunk by Arkansas’ Stanley Umade, the Wildcats outscored the Razorbacks 28-19 the rest of the way. K-State won the closing 20 minutes by 10 points (40-30).
Markquis Nowell brought K-State fans to their feet — the loudest Wildcat supporters got all night — after he sank a deep 3 to cut Arkansas’ lead to 60-52. Nijel Pack hit a step-back triple of his own to get the Wildcats within six points, 66-60, with 54.8 seconds remaining.
But the game’s smallest player came through in the biggest moments.
Razorback guard Chris Lykes, all 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds of him, was rock solid at the free throw line. He finished 10-for-10 at the line; all 10 came within the final 1:46 to keep K-State at bay.
As it was, for K-State to have any realistic chance of knocking off the ranked Razorbacks, the Wildcats needed to do what Arkansas’ three previous opponents had accomplished: nailing 3-pointers at a high rate. In the Razorbacks’ first three outings, their three foes — Mercer, Gardner-Webb and Northern Iowa — had connected on triples at a 43% clip.
The Wildcats ... did not come close to that mark.
K-State missed its first 13 3s Monday — the Wildcats went 0-for-10 from distance in the opening 20 minutes — before Luke Kasubke finally rattled one in with 12:16 remaining. Nowell and Pack had the Wildcats’ only other successful 3-point tries. K-State ended with a 3-for-22 showing behind the 3-point line. (Ironically, Arkansas also hit three of its 22 triples.)
Four players, two from each team, tied for top-scorer honors Monday: Pack and Miguel had 14 points apiece for the Wildcats, while Lykes and Connor Vanover both had 14 for the Razorbacks.
The K-State/Illinois game will tip off at 6 p.m. Tuesday and air on either ESPN2 or ESPNews.