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SLATE: Rough Weekend

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Baseball struggled, men’s basketball struggled, even tennis struggled.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball

We’ll start things off with the high note of the weekend. In Sunday’s Play4Kay game against Oklahoma State (which had a far deeper meaning for the Wildcats this year), the MittieCats couple solid defense with just enough scoring to shut down the visiting Cowgirls 56-38. The Wildcats picked up their 14th home victory, most since the 2016-17 season, thanks to Ayoka Lee’s 16th double-double of the season (17 points, 13 rebounds). But it was an overall solid performance from the Cats, who ended a two-game skid with the victory, and held the Cowgirls to just six points in the first half. Yes, not the first quarter, the whole first half. Incredible.

And the Cats saw another high water mark for fan attendance, as they were just 132 fans short of 6,000 at the game, the third straight game with over 5,000 fans. They’ll need another big crowd on Wednesday, as the Cats host No. 14/14 Texas at 6:30pm CST. If you can’t make it, the game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Now, on to the losing.

Much like it had during the last three games, Kansas State got down, and had to fight back to the finish. However, this time they just didn’t have enough at the end to counter Oklahoma State’s well-above-average shooting from deep, and fell in overtime on the road 82-79 on Saturday. In some ways, it’s surprising the game even went to overtime, because it was a game that felt further apart than the final score indicates. But the Cats, who missed a prime — and perhaps last — opportunity for a road win to boost their resume, fought tough and even got some very good minutes from a somewhat surprising source: Kaosi Ezeagu.

With nine points and four rebounds, it was easily the best performance by one of K-State’s “true” big men in 2022, and Ezeagu’s best game since he scored 9 points and grabbed 9 points in the Wildcats win over Nebraska earlier this season. And the fact that a non-double-digit scoring or rebounding performance was a highlight is a serious problem.

Next up for the WeberCats is a trip east on I-70 to face the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday. That game will be on ESPN proper at 8pm CST, if you dare to watch. Expect a blowout.

Baseball

Well the BatCats got their season underway on Friday, but someone forgot to alert the team that they needed to play Saturday and Sunday as well. K-State lost all three of their games at the 2022 State Farm College Baseball Showdown, and head home for a short break before heading back on the road for games in southern California this weekend.

On Friday, K-State’s starter Blake Adams, making his first appearance for the Wildcats after transferring form Arkansas, pitched 6 complete innings, tossing 8 strikeouts but surrendering 7 hits and four runs before giving way to the bullpen. And, in what become a common theme, the bullpen proceeded to give up four more runs before the Wildcats were able to mount a comeback in the 8th, but Dylan Phillips came just a couple feet short of a go-ahead three-run homer and the Wildcats couldn’t make it up in the 9th despite an insane performance from true-freshman Tyson Neighbors, who struck-out all three batters he faced in the top of the 9th. In the end, the Cats fell 8-6 to the No. 10 Arizona Wildcats.

And then things got worse. Despite a solid start from Connor McCullough, who gave up no runs in his five innings, and the Cats taking an early 1-0 lead, the bullpen surrendered 3 runs in the 6th and 7 more in the 7th, falling 10-2 to Michigan on Saturday. And it wasn’t just the pitching, all three runs in the 6th were unearned, coming thanks to two different fielding errors in the frame.

And guess what. Somehow, Sunday was the worst of the bunch. Collin Rothermel, a true freshman, ended up making the start for the Wildcats, and survived just an inning and two-thirds before giving way to the expected starter, Christian Ruebeck in the second. Rueback, making his first appearance as a Wildcat after transferring from Oklahoma, was chased after just three innings after allowing 10 runs, all earned, before he was pulled in the 5th. The Wildcats could only put up one run, coming in the very first inning, and Auburn pulled away for a 12-1 victory on Sunday.

Not exactly the start anyone was expecting of this unit, despite replacing several key players from last years’ squad.

Football

Mark Schofield via USA Today’s Touchdown Wire, has a look at Skylar Thompson as he prepares for the upcoming NFL Combine (and Draft). It’s mostly video, but an interesting outside perspective on the esteemed Wildcat signal caller.

Tennis

The Wildcats tennis squad took an early lead on the road at Arizona on Sunday, but quickly fell behind the host Wildcats before falling 4-2. The Wildcats claimed both doubles points, but struggled mightily in all the singles matches to come up short in their first road trip of the spring schedule. Next up for the 4-2 Cats is a trip to the northwest, were they will face off against Washington on Friday.

Track

As expected, the Wildcats did very well at the Steve Miller Invitational at Ahearn on Friday and Saturday. The Cats came away with 15 first-place finishes out of 21 events, and that was without even competing in several events, and several of the Wildcats top athletes (like Tejaswin Shankar) not even competing. Next up the Wildcats will travel back to Ames for the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday (February 25) and Saturday (February 26) with events commencing on Friday at 10 am CST.