MANHATTAN — Kansas State pulled out all the stops, from a Bramlage Coliseum white-out to some snazzy throwback uniforms with Wildcats written in purple script across the chest.

But when it came time to follow the script Saturday night, the Wildcats ultimately were done in by yet another slow start.

After digging a 13-point hole at intermission, they trimmed Marquette's lead to one in the first seven-plus minutes of the second half, only to come up short, 73-65, in the Big 12/Big East Alliance showdown.

It was the third loss in four games for the K-State, which fell to 5-3. Marquette improved to 7-2.

Marquette went in front to stay, 6-5, on a Markus Howard 3-pointer 4 1/2 minutes into the game, and despite the second-half push by K-State never relinquished the lead.

"They were very focused, the played tough (and) physical, they were ready to play the first half," K-State coach Bruce Weber said after watching his Wildcats fall to Marquette for the second straight year. "You've got to finish twos — you're nine for 34 in the first half from two — and their bench stepped up."

The Wildcats shot just 26.5 percent in the first half, missing numerous layups with two of them leading to Marqutte 3-pointers at the other end.

While K-State held Howard in check, limiting him to 19 points — seven below his season average on 6 of 16 shooting — Marquette got 30 from its bench, including a career-high 17 plus nine rebounds from junior forward Jamal Cain.

"To me, Jamal Cain was the difference in the game," Marquette coach Gene Wojciechowski said. "He was sensational.

"When Kansas State was making their runs and really putting a lot of game pressure on our team, Jamal just came up with numerous hustle plays that ended up being a huge shot in the arm for our team. Our bench was a huge part of this win and I'm very proud of those guys for stepping up the way they did."

K-State, despite the poor first-half shooting performance and a 39-26 deficit, got right back in the game with a torrid start to the second period. The Wildcats hit six of their first seven shots and seven of 11 to pull within a point, 45-44, on Levi Stockard's inside power move with 12:54 left.

That basket capped an 18-6 run. It also marked a turning point for Marquette, which answered with a pair of 7-0 runs to push the lead back to double digits.

"We got in a deep hole, but I felt like we fought hard to a certain point, and at one point it just went downhill," said K-State freshman guard DaJuan Gordon, who gave the Wildcats a spark off the bench with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals. "But I feel like we still played our same game, we've just got to make free throws, make layups (and) play better defense."

The Wildcats made life difficult for Howard, who scored 45 points against them last year in Milwaukee, but they were limited themselves by foul trouble as leading scorer Xavier Sneed played just 25 minutes and forward Makol Mawien fouled out in 30 minutes of action.

Point guard Cartier Diarra, who also sat for an extended period in the second half before fouling out late, led the Wildcats with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Mawien and Sneed each had 11 points, with Mawien grabbing seven rebounds and Sneed picking up three steals.

In addition to Howard and Cain, who came in averaging 4.0 points and 4.3 rebounds, Marquette got 13 points from Sacar Anin and three big 3-pointers from backup guard Greg Elliott.

K-State has a chance to get back on track at 7 p.m. Wednesday against Alabama State before heading to Newark, New Jersey, to face Mississippi State in the Never Forget Tribune Classic.

Finding a cure for what ails the Wildcats isn't overly complicated, according to Diarra.

"Missing? Probably just consistency on the defensive end," Diarra said. "Because at the end of the day, if you play defense you're going to give yourself a chance to win anyway, even if the shots don't fall.

"I know we're not shooting the ball as well as we're very capable of, what we've seen of ourselves in practice and leading up to the season. But going back to last year we didn't shoot the ball well in nonconference."