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K-State postpones Iowa State game over COVID-19, injury concerns

Wildcats fall short of Big 12's six-player COVID-19 threshold

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Kansas State guard Rudi Williams looks to score under the basket against Oklahoma State's Rondel Walker on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.

Two days after limping through a 16-point loss to Oklahoma State with just six scholarship players, Kansas State announced Monday that its Wednesday men's home basketball game with Iowa State has been postponed in accordance with Big 12 game interruption guidelines.

According to a K-State Athletics news release, the Wildcats were unable to meet the required COVID-19 threshold for the 6 p.m. game at Bramlage Coliseum. They will work with the Big 12 and Iowa State to set a makeup date.

The league requires teams to have six scholarship players available in order to play. K-State had just six suit up Saturday in its 70-54 home loss to Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats had three players — sophomore center Kaosi Ezeagu, sophomore forward Montavious Murphy and guard Luke Kasubke — sidelined with injuries, while sophomore forward Antonio Gordon was on the bench but not available after coming off COVID-19 quarantine. On Thursday, freshman point guard Nijel Pack experienced COVID-19 symptoms and freshman forward Seryee Lewis was quarantined due to contact tracing.

K-State coach Bruce Weber said after Saturday's game that he had considered seeking a postponement. In addition to the players that were ruled out, forward Carlton Linguard was limited by a back injury, DaJuan Gordon played more than a half with a sprained ankle, and Selton Miguel left late with cramps.

"With playing this game, I just hope we can keep their spirits up," Weber said after Oklahoma State pulled away late, handing the Wildcats (5-8, 1-4 Big 12) their fourth straight conference loss. "I told them after (that) I'm proud of them.

"Guys like Joey (Petrakis, walk-on forward) took advantage of it. Rudi (Williams) plays 40 minutes, Selton played until he cramped, (and) Carlton played until he couldn't play anymore, so you're proud of those guys."

Williams, a junior college transfer, went the whole way in place of Pack and scored nine points, while Linguard logged 14 minutes and Petrakis played a career-high 15, contributing six points. Mike McGuirl, the team's lone senior, also played 40 minutes and led the Wildcats with 15 points.

"The league has made a decision," Weber said of the six-player threshold. "The coaches voted for eight players, we wanted eight. I fought for eight.

"We were hoping to get seven, they made a decision about six, so we had six scholarship guys available."

K-State did not specify whether there were more positive tests Monday or if the team just did not have enough healthy bodies with Linguard and DaJuan Gordon both nursing injuries.

"You can't give in and you've got to keep that fighting spirit," Weber said. "I would also mention that I know Gene (Taylor, K-State athletics director) did not want the six players.

"Actually, some of the athletic directors said five, and as coaches we thought that was just ridiculous. But they got it to six and it's the rule."

Williams, who was averaging just under 20 minutes, made his first career start against Oklahoma State and did not come out.

"We just have to deal with it, deal with the situation," Williams said. "We're all men, so there's going to be tough times and you've just got to deal with adversity.

"Guys are going to of course have to step up, including myself, but now it's going to take just a little bit more from everybody else and we'll be all right. We've just got to keep moving forward and getting better."

Weber said he hoped to have Ezeagu, who is coming off a knee procedure, back in the next week to 10 days, and Kasubke has returned to practice but has yet to play this season because of a foot injury. Murphy, who is expected to have surgery on his knee, will be out longer.

"That's what I worry about more than anything, the health of our guys," Weber said. "And their spirit, because it's hard.

"It's hard, but to their credit, they've played 13 games and hopefully all the experience will help us."

Weber was second-guessing his decision not to push harder for a postponement after Saturday's loss.

"I've always been a company man, and that's why I've stayed in the business," he said. "I do what people ask of me, and try to do my best with the circumstances.

"That's all we can do as a team. I thought for our circumstances, we would have not played it. I would have been all right with it, but again you've got to do what the league says (and) you've got to do what the rules say."

K-State women postponed again

The Kansas State women's team, which already has missed four games under COVID-19 protocols, announced Monday that their Sunday home contest against Oklahoma State has been postponed as well. The next game on their schedule after that is Wednesday, Jan. 20, at West Virginia.