AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas' Madison Booker was finally having a freshman kind of game: missed shots, a rash of turnovers and a lazy attempt at a rebound that got her sent to the bench late in the first half against Kansas State.
The dazzling version of Booker returned in the second half Sunday, and she helped lead the No. 12 Longhorns to a 61-54 win that knocked the No. 2 Wildcats out of first place in the Big 12.
Booker scored 14 of her 20 points in the final two quarters. Taylor Jones had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Longhorns (21-3, 8-3).
Booker and Jones combined for 12 points during a key stretch of the third quarter that pushed the Texas lead to 19.
“That person the first half it wasn’t me,” Booker said. “I had to forget about what happened in the first half and come back and lead my team.”
Booker was thrust into a leading role when junior point guard Rori Harmon was lost for the season in December with a knee injury. She has averaged more than 20 points in Big 12 play despite nursing a tender hamstring for several games.
Booker was probably due for the kind of first half she had Sunday, with 2-of-8 shooting and five turnovers.
“I liked her a lot better in the first half,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “Most freshmen who struggle in the first half don’t have the maturity to recover from that.”
Ailiyah Moore added 10 points and 15 rebounds as Texas exploited a big size advantage with Kansas State still missing injured forward Ayoka Lee.
The Wildcats (20-3, 9-2) have lost two in a row after a 14-game win streak that allowed them to tie their highest ranking in school history.
“Our game plan was to go inside,” Moore said. “We just tried to utilize what we had and I think we did a good job.”
Kansas State scored a season-low 19 points in the first half and shot just 36% for the game. It was 3 of 21 on 3-pointers.
The Wildcats still fought back to within 54-47 on Zyanna Walker's three-point play with 2:26 to go, but Walker then missed an open 3-pointer, and Jones answered with a put-back layup on the other end.
“Texas, defensively, really locked us up,” Mittie said. “Physically, we struggled all day.”
Kansas State: The Wildcats are counting the days until Lee's return from surgery to repair a small ankle fracture on Jan. 19. Their Big 12 title hopes may depend on it. The 6-foot-6 senior from Minnesota is averaging 19.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots. Kansas State last won the Big 12 in 2008.
Texas: Last season's Big 12 regular season co-champions remain two games out of the lead but picked up a key win for their title hopes. The Longhorns could still make a run for at least a share of a last league crown before they leave for the SEC next season.
Texas also got a tough road win at Baylor a few days earlier.
“If we were going to get back in it, this was the week to do it,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said.
Kansas State hosts Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Texas plays at TCU on Saturday.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll