MANHATTAN, Kan. — They were one second from being finished, from finally allowing the game to get away for good. If nothing positive happened for the Tigers, there was probably no chance Missouri would have an opportunity to win the game.
When Stefhon Hannah took his 3-pointer with 4:15 remaining and one second left on the shot clock, Missouri trailed by seven. A missed shot here and the Tigers would remain three possessions away, with all of the momentum in favor of Kansas State.
Falling away from the basket, the one with a large Kansas State logo behind it, Hannah’s shot rattled around the rim and finally through the basket, keeping the Tigers in the game.
And somewhere in their minds, it had to feel familiar to the Missouri Tigers (13-7, 2-5 Big 12).
Playing in front of a loud crowd in the state of Kansas, the Tigers were managing to stay close to their opponents. The most recent time Missouri played in a similar environment, it was unable to make enough shots in the last few minutes of the game, eventually losing to Kansas by three points.
Since that game 17 days ago in Lawrence, Missouri had won two consecutive games. It did that by not allowing itself to get into close games, beating Colorado by 14 and Texas Tech by 13.
But there was no way Wednesday’s game was going to be like those other two, games that were decided with minutes remaining. And like that Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse, the Tigers were again unable to overcome their opponent and themselves, losing 80-73.
After falling behind by 16-5 just five minutes into the game, the Tigers found a way to get to within three points at halftime. Stefhon Hannah, playing his first game against the school he spurned last year, scored 27 points to keep Missouri in the game.
“I knew he’d play well,” forward Marshall Brown said of Hannah. “He plays well in situations like this. I wasn’t worried about him. I knew he was going to step up and play big for us.”
But like they had in their first four conference games, the Tigers were unable to make what Missouri coach Mike Anderson call “winning plays.” Missouri allowed Kansas State (16-6, 5-2 Big 12) to outrebound them 41-19, all too similar to the 41-17 tally on Jan. 13 in Columbia.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Brown said.
“We were in a zone (defense), so we shouldn’t have been giving up a lot of those rebounds. We gave them a lot of long rebounds, a lot of tip-ins. That’s on us.”
The Tigers also struggled to get to the free-throw line, taking only 13 shots from the stripe. Kansas State, meanwhile, made 22 of its 30 chances, allowing it to take control of the game into the last minute.
The Bramlage Coliseum crowd, loud all night, reached its peak with 30 seconds left when Akeem Wright escaped behind a pressing Missouri defense for a hard dunk to give Kansas State a nine-point lead.
Trailing the play the closest was Brown, whose missed dunk late in the first game contributed to the Tigers’ previous loss to the Wildcats. After Wright’s dunk, the look of frustration on Brown’s face was the same. Once again, he had to watch another team celebrate a win his Tigers could have gotten.