Xavier Snead scored 19 points, none bigger than a 3-pointer as the shot clock sounded in the final minute, and No. 15 Kansas State rallied from a slow start to beat TCU 70-61 on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament.
Barry Brown added 12 points, Kamau Stokes had 11 and Makol Mawien had 10 for the tournament’s top seed, which advanced to play No. 5 seed Iowa State in the semifinals Friday night.
The Wildcats (25-7) played without forward Dean Wade, who is sidelined once again with a foot injury. The senior watched the game from the sideline with a boot on his right foot, and probably had a hard time not leaping from his seat when Kansas State seized control in the second half.
Desmond Bane had 16 points to lead the eighth-seeded Horned Frogs (20-13), who split with the Wildcats in the regular season. Alex Robinson added 12 points and Kevin Samuel had 11.
Now, coach Jamie Dixon’s team must wait for Sunday to find out whether it has done enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Horned Frogs held on to beat Oklahoma State in the tournament’s opening round, but they went just 7-11 against the league during the regular season.
TCU was in the flow right from the tip, perhaps having benefited from that down-to-the-wire win over the Cowboys. The Horned Frogs were hot from the arc and solid on defense, and soon had built a double-digit lead on the regular-season champs.
They also took a crowd tinted Kansas State purple right out of the game.
The Wildcats finally clawed back into the game, getting a big lift from Cartier Diarra, their backup guard who returned after missing several weeks with a hand injury. He slammed an alley-oop dunk to ignite the crowd, and Sneed’s buzzer-beating 3 got the Wildcats within 34-32 at the break.
They used a 15-2 run to take their first lead midway through the second half.
The Wildcats’ lead eventually reached 10 before TCU mounted a comeback of its own. But after Mebane’s basket made it 55-52 with 5 1/2 minutes to go, Snead buried his third 3-pointer while getting fouled. He converted the free throw and gave Kansas State some breathing room again.
The Horned Frogs were never able to catch all the way up.
Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said Wade was unlikely to play this weekend, and would instead get treatment on his injured. Weber is hopeful the All-Big 12 forward is ready for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, but he refused to commit to it earlier this week.
TCU was likely out of the NCAA Tournament if it lost to Oklahoma State. Now, the question is whether a win over the Cowboys and a competitive loss to Kansas State is enough to get in.
Kansas State spent the first 10 minutes as if in a post-title malaise, and the last five minutes trying to hold on for dear life. In between, the Wildcats looked capable of playing with anyone.
Kansas State plays the fifth-seeded Cyclones in the first semifinal Friday night.