Kansas State’s leading scorer, Tylor Perry, had been kept well in check for the first 40 minutes and 56 seconds he played against Villanova on Tuesday night.
Despite struggling with his shot, he made up for it in a big way and came up with overtime heroics, shaking and baking Villanova’s Lance Ware on a stepback three, which proved to be the game-winner with 3.9 seconds left in the game.
Villanova was unable to get one last shot off before the buzzer and Kansas State held off a ‘Nova rally to win, 72-71, in Tuesday night’s entry in the Big East/Big 12 Battle.
Kansas State has now won each of its last three games in overtime.
“We practice for that moment,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune on Kansas State’s game-winning sequence. “I thought it went exactly how we wanted it to, but he just made a great shot. Stepped back and made that three. There was a helter-skelter play where we were close to getting a stop, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes. If we said coming into this game that we would just need a stop with 19 seconds to go, we would say great, we’ll take it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that stop.
“(Perry) did a great job. I thought for most of the game, we kept him in check. He’s a great player, he can really get going. Unfortunately, he got loose for that last one.”
Villanova trailed for a majority of the game, until it capitalized on a Kansas State scoring drought and used a 6-0 run over the final 2:54 of regulation to tie up the game and force overtime.
Jordan Longino hit the game-tying layup with less than a minute to go and after Hakim Hart snatched the ball from Perry to give ‘Nova a chance to win in regulation, T.J. Bamba’s desperate jumper was off the mark, and the game went into overtime.
In overtime, ‘Nova raced out in front and kept a narrow lead all throughout the extra frame, until Perry’s game-winning stepback three snatched the victory for Kansas State.
“Battle tonight, proud of the way our guys competed to the very end,” Neptune said. “Hat’s off to Kansas State, they did a great job and outlasted us.”
Villanova had a promising start to the game, connecting early and often from the three-point line, after recent shooting woes.
Things took a turn after Justin Moore checked out midway through the first half and was never seen again, as ‘Nova quickly cooled down until the break.
“Obviously, Justin’s our leader,” Neptune said. “He’s been that the whole year. I was really proud of the way our guys rallied and stepped up in his absence.”
Villanova made just one shot in its last 23 first-half attempts, an eight-minute long stretch that also included 16 straight misses to conclude the first half. As a result, Kansas State took a 33-25 lead into the break, and ‘Nova would announce that Moore would not return for the remainder of the game due to a right knee sprain.
Kansas State would briefly extend its lead into double figures, but ‘Nova would not go away quietly, getting timely baskets from Hart, Bamba and Longino down the stretch in order to chip away at the deficit and force overtime, where Kansas State would ultimately win.
Longino led Villanova with 16 points on 5-of-17 shooting, with four rebounds, three assists and a steal. T.J. Bamba had 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting, with four boards, four assists, a steal and a block. Tyler Burton had a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double, with a pair of assists, and a block and steal. Dixon chipped in 11 points and eight rebounds. Hart also finished in double figures, chipping in 10 points, five rebounds and two steals off the bench.
Villanova shot 23-of-66 (34.8%) overall and 11-of-31 (35.5%) from three-point range as a team. ‘Nova outrebounded Kansas State, 38-34, in the loss.
Although he changed allegiances and swapped jerseys, former Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma remained a pest for Villanova. He recorded a season-high 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, with nine boards and four assists.
“He’s always been a big-time player,” said Neptune on Kaluma. “He does a little bit of everything, as you could see tonight. Made threes, drove to the rim, rebounded, he did everything for them. He’s a big time player.”
Cam Carter added 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, with four boards and three assists.
Kansas State shot 29-of-59 (49.2%) overall as a team, and went 8-for-22 (36.4%) from deep.
Tylor Perry, the hero of the game, finished with 10 points, six assists and two turnovers. He was 1-for-9 from deep until he made the game-winning basket.
With the loss, Villanova has lost its third-straight game and falls to 6-4 overall. The ‘Cats have one last non-conference game this Saturday, at 7 p.m. ET, against UCLA at the Wells Fargo Center. After that, Villanova will begin Big East play at Creighton on Dec. 20.
“All these experiences are what you need,” said Neptune of takeaways and lessons learned heading into Saturday’s UCLA matchup. “This was a tough one for us. We just gotta come back, get better from this and move on. Still a long season.”