AUSTIN — All eyes were on Frank Martin.
As the Kansas State basketball coach took a seat at the media table with a microphone in front of him following the Wildcats 75-64 loss to Texas on Saturday at the Erwin Center, everyone wanted to know what he thought hurt his team most.
Would he criticize the officials for sending the Longhorns to the free-throw line 48 times while the Wildcats attempted 12 none in the second half?
Would he blame his players for losing their composure after taking a 15-point lead early in the second half, letting another game slip away that was there for the taking?
Or would he choose a combination?
The game had been over for nearly 30 minutes. He had plenty of time to look over stat sheets and analyze what took place. His answer would surely be telling.
I cant compliment (Texas) enough, Martin said. They came out in the second half and they punched us in the mouth and they punched us again and again and again and they got us on the ropes and we never punched back.
His answer equated to none of the above. Texas simply outplayed K-State.
It did so behind JCovan Browns 23 points, an aggressive offense that drew fouls, and a smothering defensive effort.
Texas dug up in us, Martin said. We broke down from our disciplines, could not execute and wanted to play one-on-one. They did to us what we have done to a lot of opponents in the last five years. They defensively crawled up into us and completely took us out of anything that we tried to do.
Everything that we did in the first half just went out the window.
K-State (17-7, 6-6 Big 12) lost the game when Brown was at his best during a key segment of the second half.
With Texas (16-9, 6-6) trailing 54-50, he used an eye-popping spin move for a layup while being fouled to pull the Longhorns within two. He made the layup, then a three-pointer in transition.
Im very crafty, Brown said.
He gave Texas a 56-54 lead with 8:20 remaining. It would never trail again.
It was an improbable ending to a game K-State dominated much of the way. The Wildcats led 40-27 at halftime thanks to a string of three-pointers from Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling, and extended it to 15 early in the second half.
Texas went on a methodical 13-0 run with 13 minutes remaining, but K-State seemed to be in good shape when Martavious Irving halted the Longhorns push by sinking a three and Jamar Samuels followed it up with an acrobatic layup for a 49-43 lead.
But K-State needed more. Though Angel Rodriguez scored a team-high 15 points, and Rodney McGruder, Spradling and Adrian Diaz all scored 11, they each did little in the second half when Texas ramped up its defensive intensity. At times, the Wildcats had difficulty getting shots off.
I love teams that get after people on the defensive end, Texas coach Rick Barnes said. I love teams that attack on the offensive end. They are in a constant attack mode and that is what we have told our team since they have been here to do.
The Longhorns attacked the basket in the second half and ended with 35 made free throws. Texas attempted 28 in the second half, K-State none.
When the game started, the referees were calling everything and we realized that if you put the ball on the floor, you were going to get a call, no matter what, Brown said. We had to try to put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. We got to the line and did a good job there.
Martin had far less to say about officiating.
I didnt officiate, Martin said. You would have to ask them.
K-State players were not available for interviews. Not that there was anything special they could say about this loss, which dropped them into a fifth-place tie with Texas.
A win Saturday wouldve helped an NCAA Tournament resume, but wins against the next three opponents Kansas, Missouri and Baylor would help more.
K-State will need to be stronger in those games than Saturday. Martin would much rather discuss how K-State can make that happen than assessing blame for this defeat.
Were too deep in the year to look backwards, Martin said. We look forward. Were not going to dwell on a negative thing here. We got beat. Thats life in the Big 12.