Before the start of Kansas State’s 68-56 exhibition victory over Washburn on Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats turned off the lights and showed a new intro video on a new video board.
The clip pumped up the home crowd and the home team as tip-off approached, but the scene didn’t go perfectly. One of the screens on the new video board began to malfunction, showing random pixels in its upper left quadrant, and it continued to malfunction all afternoon.
Perhaps it was a sign of things to come on the court below.
“We had some good moments,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “We had some moments where we were a little discombobulated.”
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The Wildcats looked best early against the Ichabods, building a 9-0 lead and getting a game-high 17 points from Marcus Foster, but they were never totally in control. Washburn trailed 32-22 at halftime and threatened to make things interesting with a second-half run that cut the score to 37-32 with 13 minutes, 53 seconds remaining.
A Washburn team that was coming off lopsided road losses to Kansas and Oklahoma was playing with energy, and K-State was not.
Weber had to call timeout and regroup his team. The move worked, and Foster led a run that increased the lead to 48-34. But the Wildcats were far away from midseason form.
They were also nowhere near full strength. Nino Williams, Malek Harris and Wesley Iwundu all watched from the sideline with minor injuries for precautionary reasons, while D.J. Johnson, who will likely redshirt, wore a walking boot. If that weren’t enough, point guard Nigel Johnson missed stretches with cramps.
Weber said Harris and Iwundu are day to day and will hopefully play when the season begins Friday against Southern Utah. Williams’ status would be closer to questionable. Weber said his knees may require additional rest.
The injuries forced Justin Edwards, a shooting guard, to play power forward. And it forced others like Stephen Hurt and Jevon Thomas to play harder and longer than they otherwise would have. Edwards, a Maine transfer, scored 14 points. Hurt had 12 points and Thomas had four points, five rebounds and eight assists. Thomas Gipson and Johnson both scored nine points.
“We had to work way harder than we normally do, because we didn’t have all our players,” Edwards said. “I would say we were really fatigued.”
That didn’t slow the Wildcats on defense, as they held Washburn to 37.7 percent shooting.
That could continue to be their strength moving forward.
“They didn’t have their pieces,” Washburn coach Bob Chipman said, “but just knowing Bruce, their defense is going to be the best, maybe in the country. He is going to get them there once they get their pieces back.”