LAWRENCE — Kansas State basketball can count itself fortunate that Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes have been able to play through pain and remain in the lineup while battling nagging foot injuries.
But it's starting to take a serious toll on the No. 16-ranked Wildcats, as evidenced by their 64-49 loss Monday night to No. 15 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse in a game that could have solidified their shot at a Big 12 regular-season title.
"He hasn't practice in three weeks," Weber said of Wade, whose diminished mobility was visible both on defense and on offense, where he has been reduced to primarily a jump-shooter. "It all caught up to him, and again credit to (Kansas) — they double teamed him and were physical with him (and) never let him get in a rhythm.
"And he'll tell you, he's told Luke (Sauber), our trainer, 'I need to practice,' but we're just trying to get through this stretch and hope and pray that he'll get two, three days off this week, maybe get that thing healthy where next week maybe we can practice him after TCU (next Monday). But it's better to have him in games than not in games, so that's the chance (you take)."
Wade also was limited by foul trouble, picking up two in 11 first-half minutes and fouling out with 3:36 left after 25 total minutes. He finished with eight points on 2 of 7 shooting — both 3-pointers — and five rebounds, turning the ball over four times.
In the seven games since going 9-for-9 from the field with 24 points in a Feb. 2 blowout victory at Oklahoma State, Wade has not scored more than 12 in a game, though he has averaged 5.6 rebounds.
"My dad told me many years ago, 'You play how you practice,' and he can't practice," Weber said. "It's no excuse, it's just a fact of life, and again I'd rather have him hobbling and not in rhythm than not have him.
"Even Kam hasn't practiced, one day, two days, in the last three weeks, so it is what it is. A lot of people have injuries now, sicknesses, (and) you've just got to deal with it."
Stokes was K-State's most effective offensive player against KU, hitting 5 of 10 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. He was the only Wildcat in double figures with 12 points, plus had four assists and four rebounds in 35 minutes.
The lost practice time has affected the Wildcats' timing more than their preparation, according to Stokes.
"I don't think it's that hard to prepare for games like this," he said. "Of course, when you don't practice, you don't have rhythm, so it's always tough in that sense, but as far as preparing for the game it's the same as any other game.
"I feel like (Monday) we just weren't fully prepared."
The Wildcats also got a sub-par performance from Barry Brown, their third senior and leading scorer, who was 1 of 8 shooting with four points. But at 21-7 overall, 11-4 in the Big 12, they still hold a half-game lead in the league over Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4), which plays host to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
Kansas (21-7, 10-5) is a game back with three to go.
K-State entertains Baylor at 7 p.m. Saturday, travels to TCU two days later, then closes the regular season at home on March 9 against Oklahoma.
"I said to (the media) Saturday that the toughest game of the stretch was going to be Baylor, because it didn't matter if we won or lost tonight, they're very physical and hungry and we've got to come ready to play Saturday," Weber said of his message to his players following the KU loss. "And we've got to hang together and be coachable.
"We're good and we're in first place because we've got a great group — they've been very, very coachable, they listen, they want to do what we say. We've got great leadership, and that's got to be the driving force down the stretch."