MANHATTAN — Cartier Diarra had to remain confident with his 3-point shot on Sunday evening against Tulsa.

Through 11 games, the Kansas State junior had made 12 all season. In Sunday's 69-67 victory against the Golden Hurricane, he delivered when the Wildcats needed him the most.

Diarra scored a career-high 25 points, going 6 for 11 from deep including a game-deciding shot with 21 seconds left after the game was knotted at 66.

“They’ve been kind of icing the ball screens on me," said Diarra on his final 3-point make. "I tried to come off the ball screen, and he was just there. I just went to, I say, one of my shots that Coach (Bruce Weber) don’t like. He likes me when I go to the basket, because I’m really good at that, and creating for others.

"I was making a couple of 3s in the first half, and then I didn’t make a couple in the second (half). I felt like that one — felt good. It was one of my shots, I like doing stepbacks. It don’t always fall in practice, but it fell today, and I was happy for it."

After Diarra's triple, Tulsa's Martin Igbanu cut the deficit to two with 13 seconds left, but K-State senior Xavier Sneed missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving the Golden Hurricane a chance to force overtime.

K-State senior Makol Mawien had different intentions as he blocked Eljiah Joiner's layup with a second to go to give the Wildcats the victory.

"I’m happy for the guys and proud of them, especially the older guys," Weber said. "We need them to be consistent and give us something. It helps everyone else. It wasn’t a great start."

The struggles began early for K-State as it went 0 for 6 from the field, including missing its first five attempts from beyond the arc.

After trailing by as many as 13, K-State used an 8-2 run to pull within five with 7:20 left in the first half.

The Wildcats were able to take their first lead of the game with a 3-pointer by Diarra.

The Golden Hurricane was able to attack, scoring 24 of its 34 first-half points inside the paint. Weber said Tulsa's zone defense played havoc against the Wildcats early.

"We were letting them get downhill," Weber said. "They had dropoffs, steals against the press. Joiner’s good and active, and (Darien) Jackson is pretty active. We didn’t attack it very well.

"We panicked and gave them some layups off that. After the beginning of the game, I thought Mak (Mawien) was more active. We did a better job of protecting the paint."

Tulsa gained the lead back with 1:49 left in the half, but K-State was able to go on a 7-0 lead to take the 40-34 advantage into the locker room.

K-State extended its lead to as many as nine to start the second half, but neither team led by more than four points over the final 16 minutes.

Weber said it was great to score at the right time, unlike the Wildcats' earlier outings where it dropped games late.

“If you look back, Mississippi State, Saint Louis, I think we haven’t scored in the last five minutes, two minutes in one and three in the other," Weber said.  "You need someone to deliver and make a play. I keep talking to the coaches, ‘What do I need to run?’

"Some of it (is) players got to make plays. He made a play today, now hopefully, he’ll take a step (up).”

Sneed was the only other Wildcat in double-figures as he finished with 18 points.

Tulsa was led by Lawson Korita's 12 points.

K-State also played without freshman Antonio Gordon, who was ruled out with the flu Weber confirmed in his postgame interview. Freshman Montavious Murphy earned the start in his place and finished with two points in 15 minutes of action.

"(Antonio) came back from break (and) the first morning that we shot around, he told Luke (Sauber), our trainer, he wasn’t feeling well. He tested positive for the flu, and so we had to quarantine him for the last three days, and hopefully get him back tomorrow.

"I thought (Montavious) was active. He got (in) a couple of those plays where they got rebounds. Those are those hustle plays that make a difference. All those little plays add up. Montavious was very solid on defense. He’s got to get back into a rhythm."

K-State opens up Big 12 play at noon on Saturday when it travels to Norman, Oklahoma to face the Sooners. The game will be televised on Big 12 Now on ESPN +.