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No Bull riding as Texas bucks off Wildcats

Coming off a 70-46 win against Kansas, No. 6 Texas seemed unprepared for a dangerous Kansas State defense. The Longhorns came back to life in the second quarter to sweep the Sunflower State teams, but not before the Wildcats figured out a potential weakness.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Manhattan, KS -- Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie knew his Wildcats needed to stand tall if they were going to take down a giant.

After all, the No. 6 University of Texas women's basketball program is only one of five Division I women's basketball programs with 1,000 all-time victories.

"Texas is 20-1 for a reason," Mittie said. "We are not going to back into a victory against Texas; you have to make plays."

But it only took 15 seconds for K-State senior guard Megan Deines to prove that even giants bleed.

Fresh off their first 4-game winning streak since the 2011-12 season, Kansas State's high-octane man defense started quickly to stifle an explosive Longhorn offense.

Wildcat sophomore Shaelyn Martin and juniors Breanna Lewis and Kindred Wesemann racked up the first field goals following Deines' while Lewis remained a defensive key against Texas junior centers Imani Boyette and Kelsey Lang.

But it was Wesemann that Texas head coach Karen Aston remembered from their defeat in the previous season.

"Considering what Kindred Wesemann did to us last year, our first priority was not to let her have eight to ten three's," Aston said. "Sometimes when that happens, you pick your poison, and we gave up some buckets to (Breanna) Lewis and the other post players. The fact that we were able to limit their production from the perimeter was important to our team."

Wesemann went 2 of 9 from beyond the arc, while Lewis racked up 12 points and junior Jessica Sheble shot 100% from under the basket.

Boyette left the first quarter deep in foul trouble, but Lang stepped in effortlessly, just one example of a very, very deep Texas bench.

Kansas State's strategies worked for the first quarter and led 15-12 going into the second. Then a 3-pointer by Longhorn sophomore Brooke McCarty ended the Wildcat reign.

Texas took over the lead and didn't look back.

"Some of the things that I felt coming into the game we would have opportunities at we did not execute very well," Mittie said. "We just did not play very well down the stretch. It was hard to find points down the stretch, and turnovers were the real problem for us in that stretch. I think we had 11 maybe at half."

The Longhorns' lead peaked at 12 before a Wildcat rally took the game into the half trailing by 8, 29-21.

Throughout the third quarter, Kansas State struggled to offset a revamped Texas offensive -- and to stifle their own mistakes.

Boyette—a 3-time Big 12 Player of the Week averaging 3.5 blocks and 16.1 points per game in league play—returned to the game following her removal in the first, providing yet another counter needed to match Lewis.

Lewis, however, battled Boyette and Lang valiantly, rebounding and attempting to get the inside edge.

Until Lewis fouled out in the final six minutes of the game.

Sheble replaced Lewis, immediately making her presence known against Boyette and Lang, putting up 4 points in four minutes.

The Wildcats' bench stepped up in big ways, but in the end, it wouldn't be enough. Poorly-timed fouls and forced shots plagued the Wildcats after the first half as their struggle to regain the lead deepened.

K-State's defense did manage to hold Texas to a 66-point performance, the Longhorns' third-worst against Big 12 teams this year.

"I thought we have done a good job having fast starts these past five games, especially with our 4-win streak," Martin said. "I thought we just lost a little bit of focus in that second quarter and going into half. We just need to make sure we do not have those lapses, and when we do have those lapses, we cannot let them have those runs."

These two teams have split their last 10 meetings, and the rematch is set for Feb. 17 in Austin, Texas.

"We had a better look to us, and we played with a better aggressiveness.," Mittie said. "I thought we did that a little better. One of the things I was disappointed in was we did not go make enough plays. I did not like how we were hesitant at times in the middle stretch of the game."

History has a way of repeating itself and should provide hope on top of fuel for Kansas State. However, this is still a young Wildcat team, and young teams must improve little mistakes before achieving anything great -- especially heading into the second half of conference play against four nationally ranked teams.