The Kansas State Wildcats battled Kansas to a stalemate, 48-48, with 7:57 to play but would not score again over the next 5:57 while KU went on an 8-0 run to secure victory in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday. A DaJuan Gordon three-pointer cut the margin to 60-57 with 27 seconds to go, but after two free throws from KU’s Isaiah Moss stretched the margin to five, K-State was not able to make any of the three broken-floor three-pointers it got on its last possession, and the Jayhawks hung on for the win.
If anyone was expecting a thrashing or a “mauling,” it did not develop. In a clearly mandated move after the anthem, the teams met at midcourt to shake hands, and no tempers flared, at any time. KU (26-3, 15-1 Big 12) built as much as a nine point lead, but K-State (9-20, 2-14) used swarming defense to force 16 turnovers that they converted into 19 points to stay in the game.
The Wildcats neutralized KU man-mountain Udoka Azubuike, who only managed to get four shots away and scored six points. But they had no answer for likely Big 12- (possible national-) player of the year, Devon Dotson. The speedy point guard blazed paths to the basket all day and scored 25 points on 8-11 shooting, while drawing seven fouls. He was the unquestioned difference in the game. No other Jayhawk breached double-figures
K-State’s upper classmen gave a valiant effort in trying to add a signature win to an otherwise disappointing season. Cartier Diarra scored 15 and led the team with three assists. Xavier Sneed and Makol Mawien both scored 13, With Mawien actually outplaying Azubuike (who left for a time in the first half after turning an ankle, but later returned), connecting on 5-9 shots from the floor and all three free throws, while tying Sneed for the team lead with five rebounds and leading everyone with three blocked shots.
The two biggest statistical differences in the game, apart from K-State’s 19-5 edge in points off turnovers: KU out-rebounded the Cats 35-23 and made 22-31 free throws, while K-State made only 12-18. KU was 4-15 from three-point range, while K-State made 8 of 25. It was almost enough. Horseshoes, again. Overall, K-State made 39.6% of its shots (19-48), while KU made 41.9% (18-43)
Three in the Key
- It’s clear the Wildcats viewed this as something of an Alamo moment in their season. They fought (unfortunate word choice?) valiantly until the buzzer, but couldn’t quite secure the upset. Moral victories are still losses. But this feels better than getting humiliated on our home floor. Doesn’t it?
- The upper classmen contributed their best collective performance in quite some time (though Sneed was an unsightly 4-12 from the floor). Empty possessions and a late drought sank them again. Time is running out to correct that deficiency.
- Only two regular season games left. First, on the road at Oklahoma State Wednesday night, then senior day at home against Iowa State next Saturday. You have to believe a similar effort in either of those games could mean a win. But, as we all know, so much of success or failure with this squad depends on putting the shot through the rim—a skill at which they too often flounder.