How does a basketball team trail from start to finish in a game when it grabs 20 more rebounds than its opponent?
Even after watching Kansas State fall to Oklahoma 82-73 on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center while winning the rebounding battle 44-24, that’s a hard one to explain.
The easy answer is that the Wildcats shot the ball poorly (39 percent) and turned the ball over too often (19 times), while Oklahoma took advantage of those turnovers, shot the ball well (55 percent) and got to the free-throw line early and often (the Sooners took 26 foul shots).
The hard answer involves K-State’s collective psyche entering the game. Following a disappointing loss to Baylor on Tuesday, Wildcats coach Frank Martin said his team was down in practice and a handful of players were not responding to adversity the way they needed to. Based on Saturday’s box score, those players appear to be Thomas Gipson, Jordan Henriquez, Martavious Irving, Angel Rodriguez and Adrian Diaz. Rodriguez and Diaz didn’t play, and Gipson, Henriquez and Irving combined to see 38 minutes of action.
One thing we know for sure is it had nothing to do with playing in a difficult road environment. An estimated crowd of 6,473 showed up in Norman on Saturday, and Oklahoma was coming off three straight losses.
Martin turned to Jeremy Jones, Nino Williams and Shane Southwell in this game, and though all three played relatively well, K-State struggled to find a lineup that worked on a consistent basis. Though it had plenty of second chances on offense, it was too out of sync to take advantage.
Because of that, the Wildcats fell behind by 18 points and were rarely competitive. After looking great against No. 9 Missouri and losing in the final seconds against No. 4 Baylor, they fell flat against an opponent any top-tier team in the Big 12 will be expected to beat. At 1-3 and in a three-way tie for seventh place in the conference standings, K-State will need to make up ground before it can be considered in that group.
Player of the game
Rodney McGruder. He didn’t have the prettiest of games (he only made six of 16 shots) but he found a way to be effective while playing 39 minutes on an afternoon when Martin didn’t show trust in all of his players. He scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had four assists.
Play of the game
Shortly after Will Spradling made a shot to pull K-State within 54-47, Oklahoma’s Andrew Fitzgerald made a jumper of his own to spark a 15-4 run, which put the Sooners ahead by a margin the Wildcats couldn’t come back from.
K-State outrebounded Oklahoma 44-24, but struggled in so many other areas that it didn’t matter.
Do it again!
It’s not crazy to think Nino Williams and Jeremy Jones will combine for close to 30 minutes of playing time in one of K-State’s upcoming games. If they continue to score well (they both scored 12 against Oklahoma) K-State will be a better team.
How about a do-over?
Will Spradling went 0-for-5 in the first half and didn’t score his first points until midway through the second half. The sophomore guard has made a habit of starting slow this season. That needs to change.
Quote to note
“Unfortunately, it takes a team to win,” — Martin in response to several of K-State’s reserve players coming through with solid games.