AUSTIN, Texas – Texas coach Rick Barnes sat courtside, watching a game between a team chasing a Big 12 title and one crashing toward the bottom of the league.
After No. 13 Kansas State dismantled his Longhorns 81-69 Saturday night in yet another loss in the worst season in his 15 years at Texas, Barnes sounded like he's seen enough.
Kansas State, sitting in a tie for first with No. 9 Kansas, has four games left to win its first league championship since winning the Big Eight in 1976-77. For the Longhorns, Barnes sent an ominous message that he's watching to see who has given up and who wants to fight for a future with his team.
"Who's in?" Barnes said. "If guys check out, decisions will be made."
Myck Kabongo scored 24 points for the Longhorns (12-15, 4-10 Big 12), the most he's scored in four games since returning from a 23-game NCAA suspension. Sheldon McClellan, who has been in and out of favor with Barnes all season, scored 15 after playing just one minute in a midweek win over TCU.
"If I were Myck, I would be upset. He came back playing as hard as he can," Barnes said. "The thing that bothers me is the effort, from the very beginning ... there isn't one guy on this team that hasn't had a chance."
Kansas State has no such problems. The Wildcats (22-5, 11-3) are rolling and getting production from all over the court.
Against Texas, Kansas State shot 50 percent from 3-point range, making nine against the team ranked No. 1 in country defending the perimeter. The Wildcats also were a blistering 20 of 22 from the free throw line to snuff out any hopes of a Texas rally. Kansas State had 19 assists on its 26 baskets, consistently whipping the ball around for the open shot, often from long range.
Rodney McGruder led the Wildcats with 20 points, leading four Wildcats in double figures
"We're trying to win a championship you know?" said Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez, who had 16 points and six assists. "We've got to play at a high level. We've still got a couple of games. If we keep doing what we do, we should be all right."
Kansas State beat Texas by 26 points in their first meeting and came into this one with an eye on testing the Longhorns from long range. Kansas State's first three field goals were 3-pointers.
The Wildcats built a 29-19 lead and looked to be in complete control in the first half, but a rash of fouls sent Texas to the free throw line 22 times in the half.
Texas trimmed the lead to three points in the final minute before Rodriguez made two free throws and a Texas turnover set up a 3-pointer by Shane Southwell at the buzzer. Texas was trying to set up for the final shot, but Kabongo dribbled the ball off his left foot. Omari Lawrence scooped up the loose ball and passed to Southwell for the running-3-pointer that made it 40-32.
"That was big," Texas freshman Ioannis Papapetrou said. "Coach talked about it after the game. It changed the momentum. Instead of a one-possession game, it was a three-possession game."
The Wildcats quickly asserted control in the second half, opening a 15-point lead. Rodriguez sparked the run with an easy steal at midcourt and layup and Will Spradling was surrounded by three Texas players and still won a scramble a loose ball at their feet to set up a layup by Thomas Gipson. Southwell made two more 3-pointers and the Wildcats led 65-46 with about 10 minutes to play.
"They moved the basketball," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "They were more aggressive on defense this time than the first time, we kept our composure, made the extra pass that got some easy goals."