Was Monday Kansas Day, or Groundhog Day? Because there was certainly a sickening sense of déjà vu in Bramlage Coliseum last night. K-State fans have lived through this despondent numbness entirely too often.
After Makol Mawien’s lay-up gave K-State a 2-0 lead, the Jayhawks made 10 of their first 12 shots, while the Wildcat offense fell into cryostasis for the first five minutes (and most of the first half), taking all the drama out of the game early. By the time the offense thawed, the deficit was just too great. Though the Wildcats fought back in the second half, cutting the lead to five, they could get no closer, and ultimately fell, 70-56.
Bill Self often says a key ingredient to winning is making the opposition play poorly (actually, he says “Make ‘em play bad”). KU accomplished that mission, holding K-State to 26.7% shooting in the first half, while pouring in 70% of their own looks (6-7 from beyond the 3-point arc).
The loss stings, in part, because Kansas was not great, either. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 12 times before halftime, and took 15 (fifteen!) fewer shots than K-State (35-20). Yet they led by 13 at halftime, 40-27. The Wildcats’ inability to find good shots or knock down open three-point attempts, while KU made seemingly everything, doomed them. Their inability to stay in front of ball-handlers driving to the bucket or to contest outside shots after sagging to help contributed to the loss, as well.
Although it appears Kansas is more vulnerable than in past years, and K-State had high hopes of beating them, maybe a little perspective is in order: They are the No. 7 team in the country. Bruce’s guys were going to have to play near their ceiling to win, and they just did not get it done. Cold comfort, that.
The loss drops K-State to two games back in the league race, at 5-4, while Kansas (7-2) extends its lead over the field, much to the chagrin of our conference running mates. Note to Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma: We’ll probably upset one of you down the stretch to help ensure KU wins the league. It’s just what we do. We can’t help ourselves, even though it makes us feel icky.
Multiple recaps, of course, for those who want to stoke their fury or disappointment:
From our own Luke Thompson: Early Start Dooms K-State vs. KU, Again
Greg Woods, the Mercury: K-State’s offense goes frigid in loss to Kansas
Kellis Robinett, KC Star: Sunflower Showdown loss feels like missed opportunity for Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle: Cold Start Prevents Kansas State from Shaking Up Big 12 Standings
Recap from the Athletic Department: K-State Can’t Overcome Early Deficit in 70-56 Loss to 7/7 Kansas
Benton Smith, Lawrence Journal-World: Road-tested Jayhawks beat K-State in Manhattan
K-State regrouped nicely to run off four straight wins after the last KU loss, and will try to recover in a tough road environment Saturday afternoon against Bob Huggins and the West Virginia Mountaineers. It doesn’t get any easier from here.
After the retirement of defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, K-State must find a replacement. Ryan Black at the Mercury speculated on the possibilities.
It’s not all doom and gloom at K-State: Be on the lookout for JT Van Gilder’s post about three new recruits later today.
K-State tennis welcomed five newcomers from four countries to this year’s squad, and they have performed well early in their careers. Corbin McGuire spotlighted them for K-State Sports Extra.
Jeff Mittie’s squad will travel to Norman on Wednesday to avenge their 76-71 loss two weeks ago to the 10-11/5-5 Sooners. The article says the game will tip at 10:30 a.m. ESPN reports the same. That’s...odd. At 12-9 overall and only 4-6 in league play, the Wildcats need a win. Not only is the NCAA bubble in play at this point. The schedule portents a difficult road to avoid falling below the NIT-mandated .500 line.