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Final: Oklahoma State 69, K-State 63

Poor shots and poor shooting again ruin the night in the penultimate regular-season game.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Oklahoma State
If you’re looking for a bright spot, Mike McGuirl did force Oklahoma State point guard Isaac Likekele into five turnovers.
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State led Oklahoma State in Stillwater for a significant portion of the game and held a 48-44 advantage after a David Sloan three-pointer midway through the second half, but the Wildcats could not sustain the advantage and fell to the Cowboys 69-63.

After taking the four-point lead, K-State (9-21, 2-15 Big 12) would give up an 18-3 run to Oklahoma State (16-14, 6-11) to fall behind by double-digits, 62-51, with 3:52 to play. The Cats made a run at the end, but the gap was simply too much.

The season-long frustration of shooting (and, to an equal degree, shot selection) was again the story of the game. K-State took 12 more shots than Oklahoma State, but connected on only 21-58 attempts (36.2%). The Cowboys, meanwhile, made 21-46 (45.7%). K-State was 4-21 from three-point range (19%), compared to 7-20 (35%) for Oklahoma State.

The opening minutes of the contest featured aggressive man-to-man defense by both teams. K-State exploited the heavy ball pressure at times by attacking the rim off the dribble and kicking to open shooters. The Cats also forced 11 first-half turnovers and made all three of their free throws. Somehow, all that effort only added up to 23 points at the break. Two-for-nine “accuracy” from three-point range had a great deal to do with the low point production.

In total, the Wildcats forced 19 turnovers. They uncharacteristically hit 17 of 21 free throws (81%). Rebounds were even, at 33 per side. Those are all numbers that suggest a winning outcome. Except....

To understand how the game was lost, consider the scoring totals: K-State was led by Cartier Diarra, who had 16 points on 5-14 (0-4 from 3-point range) shooting. Mike McGuirl scored 11, but was 4-10, 0-5. Xavier Sneed scored 10, but was 3-14 and 2-8. Several of his misses were contested long-range jumpers. One was a failed breakaway dunk attempt that (if nothing else) might make Diarra feel a little less lonely after his broken windmill attempt against Texas Tech. Makol Mawien and DaJuan Gordon each added 8 points, but Gordon badly missed two wide-open three pointers that could have made the difference in the game and shot only 3-8 overall.

The litany of clanked shots are the exhausting refrain of the entire season. You want the season in a nutshell: The Cats have surpassed 70 points exactly one time in the entire Big 12 season, when they somewhat miraculously put up 84 in beating West Virginia back on January 18. They have been held below 65 in 14 of the other 16 contests, and below 60 in seven. Virginia might be able to win like that. This year’s K-State squad has not been able to pull off the miracle.

Oklahoma State only had two double-figure scorers. Cameron McGriff scored 14, and Thomas Dziagwa had 11. Five other players had at least seven points for the Cowboys.

Three in the Key

  1. History of the unwanted kind was made, as K-State lost a 21st game in a season for the first time ever. Nothing more to be said about that.
  2. This was K-State’s tenth consecutive loss. No embellishment on this point, either.
  3. Senior Day against Iowa State at home on Saturday will be the last regular-season chance to pick up a win. The effort—remarkably, despite the string of losing—is there. The execution comes and goes. But the Cats haven’t had a good shooting night in forever. They lost every game in the month of February, for the first time ever. Can they rally one last time for X, Mak and Pierson McAtee? And can they couple the effort with enough converted buckets to pull out a last win? One way or another, this will all be a memory soon.