K-State (15-7, 5-5 Big 12) started poorly, hung around early, then no-showed for the second half of its 89-51 loss to West Virginia (16-6, 6-4) Saturday.
The second annual roundball rugby match lived up to expectations, with West Virgina pushing, slapping and harassing the ‘Cats into five turnovers before the first media break, and ten by halftime. Couple that problem with West Virginia hitting six 3’s and shooting 50% from the floor, and it added up to a 39-30 halftime deficit for K-State. And that was the “good” part of the game.
Xavier Sneed tried to keep his team in striking distance. He missed his first two 3-point attempts, but knocked down three of his next four, and added a free throw to lead the team with 10 first half points.
Rebounds were even at 13 apiece in the first half, but West Virginia collected six on the offensive end, leading to nine second chance points. They also scored nine points off K-State’s 10 first half turnovers.
It got worse. Much, much worse.
Less than four minutes into the second half, Barry Brown in-bounded the ball, and was called for a foul for, apparently, running up the court. James “Beetle” Bolden threw his head back and faked a push. The ref called a reaction foul, then compounded his error by adding a technical foul. It was just one part of a frustrating day for Barry. He was scoreless at the half, and had only one point and six turnovers when he took a seat after the technical. He played later, but was never a factor offensively.
There is no use saying much more about the second half, because it was dreadful in every way.
Dean Wade scored 17 points on 6-13 shooting. Sneed added 16 on 5-11 shooting (5-10 from three). Diarra had six, and Barry Brown, once a reliable offensive stalwart, ended the game with a single point on only three shots from the field.
Sneed, who has been a cold shooter of late, played his best game in weeks, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Dean was his usual self. Absolutely nothing else provided a hopeful sign for the team. The 38-point loss was the worst for K-State since falling 93-52 to UMKC (What? Really?) in 2003. It was eerily reminiscent of last year’s 81-51 loss to OU in Norman, and was the worst conference loss for K-State in more than a decade. Bad losses happen. One certainly happened today. The squad needs a total reset.
Four Mountaineers hit double-figures, led by mean-mugging Sagaba Konate, who had 19. Jevon Carter tossed 11 assists, only one fewer than K-State had as a team.
Three in the Key
1. Rattled on the Road. K-State got off to a dreadful start, turning the ball over on four of its first six possessions. West Virginia rattles lots of teams, but you had to know extra pressure was coming after the Mountaineers’ embarrassing effort in a midweek game against Iowa State. Giving the ball away is thing one you cannot do if you want to beat Huggins’s squad. And the Wildcats gave it away like Halloween candy.
2. O Barry, where art Thou? Barry Brown was playing all-conference basketball for two weeks after Kamau Stokes went down with injury, and this was a different team when he was on his game. Since pouring in 34 at Baylor, though, the 6’4 junior has been off the mark from the field, scoring 9 against both Georgia and KU, and only one today against West Virginia. Worse, he seemed unable to find a shot. With 8 minutes to play, Barry had shot only twice. It is probably no coincidence that the ‘Cats found themselves down by 22 at the time. Barry keyed the resurgence three weeks ago. His struggles account for much of the team’s difficulties over the last three games.
3. Offensive Offense. In the last three games, K-State has managed 56, 56 and 51 points. Georgia was physical, sure. But KU is no defensive bully this year, and West Virginia just gave up 93 points to Iowa State Wednesday night. The Wildcats must rediscover their shooting touch—and some scoring balance—quickly, or the remainder of the season will spiral down the drain.