Illinois' second-half 3-point blitz too much for Kansas State basketball to overcome in 72-64 loss
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kanas State Wildcats seemed to be onto a winning formula on Monday night, even if it came too late to upset Arkansas in the opening round of the
Hall of Fame Classic.
By aggressively attacking the basket instead of settling for perimeter jumpers, they got back in the game.
The same tactic worked well into the second half of Tuesday's consolation game against Illinois — that is until the Illini unleashed their bomb squad.
The No. 10-ranked Illini took the lead for good with a nine-point run, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers from Alfonso Plummer and Jacob Grandison, and went on to knock down 7 of 14 threes in the period to pull away for a 72-64 victory over the Wildcats at T-Mobile Center.
It was the second straight loss in the tournament for K-State, which slipped to 2-2. Illinois, a 20-point first-round loser to Cincinnati, improved to 3-2.
Plummer, who hit 7 of 9 3-pointers, finished with 21 points, while 7-foot center Kofi Cockburn had had a game-high 23 and 13 rebounds.
Markquis Nowell came off the bench to lead K-State with 19 points, followed by Nijel Pack with 15 and Ismael Massoud with 13. Nowell had 11 of his points in the first half and Pack 11 of his in the second.
Illinois outrebounded K-State 42-26.
After trailing 34-31 at the half, Kansas State started the second half with six straight points to lead by three, but Illinois answered with seven straight. The Wildcats pushed back in front, 42-41, on a Massoud 3-pointer with 14:40 left, but then the Illini's long-range bombers went to work.
K-State battled back from a six-point deficit to take its first lead of the tournament, 16-14, on a Nowell 3-pointer with 10:47 left in the half. Nowell, who had 11 points in the period, went on to score the Wildcats' next six points as well, but was overshadowed by Illinois backup guard Plummer.
Plummer drained three straight 3-pointers to trigger a 13-4 run that gave the Illini their biggest lead of the half, 29-22.
Illinois dominated the boards in the first half, led by five from Cockburn, who also led all scorers with 14 points in the period. But K-State turned the ball over just twice in the half to eight for the Illini.