Kansas State University

Kansas State falls flat in 82-72 loss to No. 21 Baylor

Kansas State forward Stephen Hurt (41) fought his way to the basket in the first half as the Wildcats played No. 21 Baylor on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
Kansas State forward Stephen Hurt (41) fought his way to the basket in the first half as the Wildcats played No. 21 Baylor on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. The Wichita Eagle

More than anything, Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber worried about his team’s mindset leading up to an 82-72 loss to Baylor on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum.

How would the Wildcats follow their biggest victory of the season, a thrilling upset of then-No. 1 Oklahoma? He had no idea, but he wanted them to play angry, so he motivated them the best way he knew. He challenged them to play with extra aggression throughout the week and then wrote the words “play angry” inside the locker room. It was the only thought he wanted in their minds as they took the court.

But it didn’t stick. Instead, the game unfolded as if Weber had been preaching to the Bears.

“They were a wounded animal,” Weber said of Baylor. “They had lost two in a row, three out of five. They were fighting for their lives. That is how they played. We should be fighting for our lives, and we didn’t.”

Baylor (18-6, 7-4 Big 12) controlled this one from the beginning by taking a 25-11 lead and stiff-arming K-State (14-10, 3-8) every time it tried to mount a comeback.

More than anything, Kansas State basketball coach Bruce Weber worried about his team’s mindset leading up to an 82-72 loss to Baylor on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum. Weber talks about the loss in the post game press conference. (Feb. 10, 2016/Bo

“We are hungry every game, whether we lose five in a row or win five in a row,” Baylor forward Taurean Prince said after scoring 18 points. “We are just that type of team. We have a good staff that prepares us the right way and good teammates that know what to do and are relentless.”

The Wildcats were unable to match that intensity. They also had no answers for the Bears’ 2-3 zone defense, and it was easy to analyze why. There are many ways to beat a zone, but seemingly every strategy relies on some level of success from the three-point line. Baylor’s drama-free victory demonstrated exactly that.

K-State excelled in enough areas to beat the No. 21 Bears, such as pounding the ball inside, forcing Baylor into foul trouble and making 20 of 23 free throws. Its defense wasn’t bad either, as it held Baylor scoreless for six straight minutes in the second half.

Weber’s team often struggles at those parts of the game, but those positves weren’t enough. Not while K-State waited until the final minute to make its only three-pointers, a pair of corner looks from senior guard Justin Edwards with the game out of reach.

Without the help of outside shots – K-State went 2 of 14 from beyond the arc – the Wildcats had a hard time keeping things competitive against Baylor’s 2-3 zone defense. Until the final seconds, it appeared they would go without a three-pointer for the first time since a 2008 NCAA Tournament loss to Wisconsin, a streak that spanned 261 games.

“If you make a few it spreads out their zone,” Weber said, “and now they have to close out a little harder. Maybe you can get it inside a little easier. We knew it was not our strength.”

K-State has struggled against zones all season, but this effort seemed to hit new frustration levels.

Maybe that’s because everything appeared to be going K-State’s way at tipoff. The Wildcats were coming off their best game of the season, in which they made shots from all over and defended with intensity. The hope was that they could build off that performance with another victory against a ranked team.

A win Wednesday would have significantly strengthened K-State’s postseason chances.

When Baylor announced it would play without starting forward Rico Gathers, a physical rebounder who averages a double-double but was ill Wednesday, K-State faced a golden opportunity to pick up a quality victory against a weakened opponent.

But it wasn’t to be. K-State fell victim to the law of averages. It was at its best on Saturday and below average on Wednesday.

“We had a really good practice on Monday,” junior forward D.J. Johnson said. “I thought we did really good. We were aggressive and we played against each other. We were competitive (Tuesday), the same thing. I just don’t know what happened tonight.”

Baylor didn’t appear to miss Gathers one bit, behind a game-high 21 points from Al Freeman, 18 points from Taurean Prince and 13 from Lester Medford.

The Bears had success inside and out and at the free-throw line, where they made 29 of 30, forcing the Wildcats to play catch up.

K-State pulled as close as three in the first half and five in the second, but it couldn’t sustain any offensive punch. Injured point guard Kamau Stokes led the Wildcats with 20 points, including three three-pointers, when they pushed the Bears to double overtime last month. They clearly struggled without him in the rematch. Making matters worse was freshman forward Dean Wade encountering foul trouble.

One of the team’s top shooters, he picked up three fouls in his first five minutes of action and was relegated to the bench.

That left K-State trying to score mostly inside, turning to Johnson and Edwards. Both responded, scoring 19 points in different ways. Johnson was a workhorse under the basket, making seven field goals and grabbing eight rebounds. Edwards did the bulk of his damage from the free-throw line, going perfect in seven attempts.

He also missed three of five attempts from three-point range. That’s not the recipe for beating Baylor, especially when you can’t play angry.

“We were the ones taht should have been playing mad,” Weber said. “If you go back and watch the tape, we should have won the game at Waco. They came very focused and agreesive, took it to us and made plays.”

No. 21 BAYLOR 82, KANSAS STATE 72

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

BAYLOR

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Motley

24

3-7

3-3

2-3

1

4

9

Prince

31

6-8

4-4

1-1

2

2

18

Medford

34

1-4

11-11

0-0

9

2

13

Wainright

27

1-6

4-4

1-6

0

3

7

Freeman

33

6-7

6-6

1-4

0

0

21

Lindsey

26

1-3

0-0

1-6

4

2

2

Maston

14

4-9

0-0

0-1

0

5

8

McClure

11

1-3

1-2

0-1

0

1

4

TEAM

   

0-3

   

Totals

200

23-47

29-30

6-25

16

19

82

Percentages: FG .489, FT .967. Three-Point Goals: 7-13, .538 (Freeman 3-3, Prince 2-2, Wainright 1-2, McClure 1-3, Lindsey 0-1, Medford 0-2). Blocked Shots: 6 (Motley 3, Prince 2, Lindsey). Turnovers: 15 (Prince 5, Medford 3, Motley 2, Wainright 2, Maston, Freeman). Steals: 8 (Wainright 2, Motley 2, Lindsey, Maston, Medford, Freeman). Technical Fouls: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

K-STATE

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Johnson

32

7-15

5-7

5-8

0

3

19

Hurt

10

1-3

2-2

1-3

1

3

4

Ervin II

25

1-4

2-2

3-7

0

2

4

Brown

36

4-13

0-0

0-4

1

2

8

Iwundu

38

5-8

1-2

4-4

9

1

11

Edwards

36

5-13

7-7

2-2

2

5

19

Budke

12

0-2

2-2

0-3

0

2

2

Wade

11

2-6

1-1

1-1

0

4

5

Rohleder

0

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

TEAM

   

3-3

   

Totals

200

25-64

20-23

19-35

13

23

72

Percentages: FG .391, FT .870. Three-Point Goals: 2-14, .143 (Edwards 2-5, Iwundu 0-1, Ervin II 0-1, Wade 0-2, Brown 0-5). Blocked Shots: 2 (Wade, Johnson). Turnovers: 16 (Iwundu 4, Brown 3, Ervin II 3, Edwards 2, Hurt 2, Johnson, Wade). Steals: 8 (Iwundu 3, Brown 2, Johnson, Ervin II, Edwards). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Baylor 43-32. Attendance: 11,636. Officials: Joe DeRosa, Terry Oglesby, Lee Cassell.

AP-WF-02-11-16 0345GMT

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

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