Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 86-73 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday:
1. Bruce Weber’s road struggles are not isolated to this season.
As frustrating as a six-game losing streak in road games has to be for K-State, it is not new territory for Weber. K-State’s second-year coach lost six straight road games in his final season at Illinois and four straight road games in 2011. In between, he led K-State to a 7-3 road record last season. So it’s not as if he doesn’t know how to win on the road. But he has a 12-24 road record in his past four seasons. K-State doesn’t appear close to solving its road woes. Perhaps those numbers explain why.
2. K-State played its worst defensive game in months.
K-State’s defense was bad against Georgetown and at Kansas, but it was horrible at Oklahoma. The Sooners moved the ball around the perimeter and continually found wide open shots. The score could have been much worse had Oklahoma made more of them, but they actually started the game cold before making 51 percent of their shots. It torched K-State in transition and took most of its shots early into possessions, which is what Lon Kruger loves. The Wildcats took the Sooners out of their offensive rhythm in Manhattan on their way to a 72-66 victory. But they looked clueless in Norman. Some of that was certainly due to K-State’s habit of playing with low enthusiasm on the road. But Kruger coached a great game, too.
3. Weber said Oklahoma had an unfair advantage, because it had a week off to prepare for the game. How lame.
Weber opened his postgame news conference with a suggestion for the sports reporters in the room. He said we should look into the Big 12 schedule and explore how teams played coming off a bye week. He compared a rested Oklahoma team to a buzz saw, saying K-State caught the Sooners on a bad night. He also implied that K-State faced an unfair test at Iowa State. The Cyclones beat the Wildcats after a bye last month. He hopes the league looks into the matter. It all sounded like a lame excuse. The Big 12 has the fairest schedule in the nation, with all 10 teams playing each other twice in a true double round-robin. The semantics of bye weeks and Big Monday swings balance out in the end. I didn’t hear Weber complaining when K-State took advantage of a bye week and beat Texas and Kansas in a span of three days.
Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Marcus Foster — 7.
Last game: 6. Average: 7.2.
His 21 points made the final score respectable, but he didn’t do any damage until the game was way out of reach. As Foster ages, he needs to develop into a more complete player that can impact games in multiple ways.
Nigel Johnson — 6.
Last game: 0. Average: N/A.
The freshman point guard shot the ball well in the second half and finished with 11 points, but he didn’t play a lick of defense.
Thomas Gipson — 5.5.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 7.1.
Gipson hasn’t looked dominant in a while now. He had 10 points against Oklahoma, but only three rebounds. He is the leader of this team, and he needs to do more in all areas if K-State hopes to win on the road.
Will Spradling — 5.
Last game: 7. Average: 6.6.
He attempted three shots in 26 minutes. The senior guard couldn’t get anything going.
Wesley Iwundu — 4.5.
Last game: 1. Average: 5.
Iwundu scored eight points. Forget that they all came in garbage time. Maybe that will help him break out of his recent slump.
Nino Williams — 4.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 6.2.
The junior forward has six points and five rebounds. With Shane Southwell returning to the rotation, he may soon move back to the bench.
Omari Lawrence — 4.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 4.5.
Lawrence’s hot streak ended with a four-point effort.
D.J. Johnson — 3.
Last game: 6. Average: 4.1.
Johnson reverted back to his early season form and didn’t impact the game.
Jevon Thomas — 3.
Last game: 5. Average: N/A.
On the plus side, he made three free throws.
Shane Southwell — 3.
Last game: N/A. Average: 5.7.
The senior guard returned after a two-game hiatus, scoring four points in 17 minutes. K-State hopes he can build off that moving forward.
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