SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As his team tried to climb out of an early hole against Georgetown on Friday in the consolation round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber pleaded to his players, “Let’s keep our poise.”
By CARY ESTES
Special to The Star
Moments later, K-State committed a turnover. It was that kind of game for the Wildcats, who lost to the Hoyas 90-63 for their second defeat in roughly 24 hours.
“We got our butts spanked,” Weber said. “We just have to play better.”
There weren’t many bright spots. Kansas State shot 36 percent while allowing the Hoyas to shoot 63.5 percent. The Wildcats had 16 turnovers and only six assists, compared with 19 assists and seven turnovers for Georgetown. And while K-State did outrebound Georgetown 32-28, that was partly because the Hoyas didn’t miss many shots (they had only five offensive boards).
It was the worst loss for K-State, 2-3, since Bob Huggins’ Wildcats lost 97-70 at Kansas in 2006-07.
“Right now we’re not a true team. We kind of play individually on the court,” said K-State junior forward Thomas Gipson, who had 18 points and six rebounds in his first extended action after missing the first three games because of an injury. “The older guys need to be leaders to the younger guys, and I think we’re kind of messing up on that.”
Friday’s game marked another slow start for K-State, which fell behind Charlotte 20-8 in Thursday’s opening-round loss. This time the Wildcats went nearly 4 minutes without scoring, allowing Georgetown, 2-2, to take a 10-0 lead.
K-State briefly rallied, cutting the deficit to 16-12 at the 11:40 mark. But Georgetown — which was upset by Northeastern in the first round of the tournament — embarked on an 18-5 run over the next 7 1/2 minutes, building a 34-17 lead, and the Hoyas cruised from there.
“The start of the game really got us into a hole, and you can’t do that against good teams,” Weber said. “We caught them after a very tough loss for them and their program. I’m sure they were a little extra motivated, and they definitely played as well as they could.”
Indeed, Georgetown coach John Thompson III said he had “a conversation” with his team after the Northeastern game.
“(Thursday) was horrible,” Thompson said. “The overall attention to detail was much better (Friday). The overall willingness to help each other at both ends of the court was much better. It was two very different games, and obviously the outcome was much different. Our mind-set was closer to where it has to be.”
Weber can only hope that the Wildcats will show similar improvement in the final round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. After a day off, K-State will play Long Beach State, which lost 73-67 to VCU, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday for seventh place.
“We just have to deal with this loss and move forward,” Weber said. “We’ll see what our leadership and toughness is all about, then come back and see if we can manage somehow (to salvage) the weekend.”