MANHATTAN — The simplest message can often times be the most biting.
Some Kansas State basketball fans chose to reference in-state rival Kansas’ apparel provider — “Adidas wants a refund,” one sign read. Others prodded the Jayhawks for a perceived role in the ongoing college basketball corruption scandal, with KU coach Bill Self’s face plastered on a faux $100 bill distributed within the Wildcat student section.
But as the Jayhawks jogged onto the court for their pregame warmups — serenaded to chants of “F-B-I” — one sign stood out above the rest, several rows deep but held up and waved back and forth with a vigor that continued well into the pivotal conference clash:
“WE HATE YOU,” the message read.
While one didn't need a sign to get that point — only ears or eyes would be necessary — these facts appear true:
For at least one night, the Wildcats were better than the Jayhawks, and the Big 12 may very well run through Manhattan.
Xavier Sneed hit a critical 3-pointer to gain separation in what was a one-possession tilt with 1:15 remaining, Cartier Diarra followed with a game-sealing steal and windmill dunk that will live on in program lore, and first-place K-State earned a 74-67 victory over its hated rival on Tuesday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Sneed finished with 14 points and three made 3s, while Barry Brown paced the Wildcats with 18 points. The Jayhawks fell despite an 18-point, nine-rebound effort from Dedric Lawson, with Devon Dotson (13 points) the only other player in double figures for KU, which fell to 1-6 in true road contests.
Here's how it happened.
The Jayhawks (17-6, 6-4 Big 12) survived a buzz saw-like start by the Wildcats (17-5, 7-2) to take a three-point lead into halftime.
K-State’s lead stood at nine following a Sneed 3-pointer, the team’s third make in four tries from downtown in the game’s opening six minutes. The Wildcats scored seven points off the Jayhawks’ first three turnovers, with Bill Self’s squad likely flustered by the ear-ringing noise only it can evoke at this facility.
But KU recovered. Self switched to a 2-3 defense — a scheme that gave the Wildcats fits nearly two weeks ago in their 12-point defeat at Texas A&M — and forced K-State into a 1-for-14 shooting finish to end the opening period. KU, meanwhile, reeled off a 15-1 run during their opponent’s drought, with reserve guard Charlie Moore hitting a pair of 3s and notching a steal to set up a thunderous Ochai Agbaji dunk in the rally.
A trey from K-State’s Mike McGuirl with 41 seconds left in the half trimmed the Wildcat deficit to 33-30 at the break but represented the team’s lone field goal make in the period’s final 10 minutes.
The Wildcats rediscovered that early-game rhythm to start the second half, however, riding smothering defense and a 13-3 run to a five-point lead five minutes into the period. A Dotson layup minutes later represented only the third made field goal of the half to that point for the Jayhawks, and it was sandwiched between 3-pointers from Sneed and Diarra, the latter giving K-State an eight-point edge, 50-42, with 11:59 to play.
A Lagerald Vick turnover moments later — the senior guard found Self with a bullet well wide of Moore — represented the 18th turnover of the game for the sloppy Jayhawks, and a Dean Wade turnaround jumper out of the subsequent timeout ballooned the Wildcats’ lead to eight entering the final 10 minutes.
A prolonged stretch without Wade helped the Jayhawks stick their foot back in the door, as a run of 8-1 cut the deficit to one with just over seven minutes to play. KU couldn’t stop fouling, though, picking up its 10th team foul with 5:05 to play — following the Jayhawks’ 21st turnover — and allowing Barry Brown to make it a four-point contest with a make at the stripe.
Lawson’s layup at the other end cut the deficit to one possession, but KU picked a terrible time for one of its worst sequences of the contest — Diarra drained another 3-pointer on a Wade drive-and-dish, Quentin Grimes missed an off-balance floater on the other end, and Brown blazed across the court for a transition layup that made the K-State advantage 63-56 with 3:52 to play, forcing KU into a timeout to regroup.
Vick and Moore missed consecutive 3-point attempts out of the break in the action, but after a Wade free-throw make, Vick hit a guarded trey, and Dotson followed with an acrobatic layup that again made it a one-possession game, 64-61, with 1:42 to play.
It would be the Jayhawks’ last meaningful hurrah, with the heroics from Sneed and Diarra capping what was the only the Wildcats’ fifth victory in 31 all-time clashes with their in-state rival inside Bramlage Coliseum.
While an exclamation point dunk by Brown at the final buzzer didn’t count, it served as a cue for the K-State faithful to storm the court, many with signs still in tow.
The Wildcats continue their season with a 5 p.m. Saturday contest at Baylor, while the Jayhawks will look to rebound at 11 a.m. Saturday against Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse.