Stephen Hurt is in luck.
Hurt’s favorite shot is a midrange jumper from the baseline, and Wildcats coach Bruce Weber wants the senior forward to fire away from that spot when Kansas State plays at No. 13 Baylor on Wednesday.
“It would help if he got some touches,” Weber said. “The one thing he can do is shoot the basketball. He has got to get five or six shots. We have to get some balance.”
A strong shooting game from Hurt would certainly boost K-State’s chances of upsetting Baylor at Ferrell Center. The Bears primarily use a zone defense, which is vulnerable against mid-range jumpers from the baseline. Former K-State forward Nino Williams routinely put up big numbers with that shot against Baylor, and Weber hopes Hurt can do the same.
The Wildcats need someone to step up. They have struggled against zone defenses all season, including Saturday during a 76-63 loss to Iowa State, which normally plays man defense. Baylor’s defense figures to be an even bigger challenge.
“We have to be able to move the ball,” Hurt said. “They play a majority of zone. We have to work on our zone offense a bit and make it more efficient. Moving the ball side to side is key. Don’t let it get stagnant and make sure everyone touches the ball.”
That includes Hurt, who is averaging 6.3 points, by far the lowest total of anyone in K-State’s starting lineup.
When he has played aggressively, he has played a major role in the offense. He scored 11 points against Oklahoma, making three three-pointers, and he had 15 points against South Dakota. He took a step back in his past two games, attempting one shot against Texas Tech and scoring four points against Iowa State, but he understands he needs to do more.
“I have to get myself open, especially in the zone,” Hurt said. “The last couple months, me and coach have worked on the areas I have to go to. I will do whatever it takes to help the team.”
Weber has struggled to find an ideal fit for Hurt since his arrival from junior college. He is a gifted shooter, but at 6-foot-11, the Wildcats also need him inside.
For now, he thinks it is best to let Hurt step outside shoot.
“We have got to get him some touches,” Weber said. “He can’t create. It’s the little things. Coming off a ball screen, we have to get him more looks.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett