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Slow start dooms Kansas State in 67-60 loss at Oklahoma State

Wildcats' second-half run not enough in 12th straight loss

Arne Green
Salina Journal
Kansas State's Mike McGuirl (00) sets up the offense while being defended by Oklahoma State's Bryce Williams (14) during Saturday's game at Gallagher Iba Arena.

The Kansas State Wildcats had one brilliant four-minute stretch that showed real promise of what might lie ahead.

The other 36 minutes, not so much.

Oklahoma State withstood a 16-point K-State run early in the second half, pushed its lead back to double digits and held on for a 67-60 victory over the Wildcats on Saturday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.

It was the 12th straight loss for K-State, which fell to 5-17 overall, 1-12 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State improved to 13-6 and evened its league record at 6-6.

It was their offense more than anything that let the Wildcats down in a first half that saw Oklahoma State take control and lead 35-19 at the break. They shot just 25% in the opening period but came back to knock down 55% of their second-half shots.

"The first half we came out kind of sluggish," said sophomore forward Antonio Gordon, who led K-State with a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. "I feel like the second half we definitely picked it up, but defensively we had some good stops, some good defensive possessions (in the first half).

"We've just got to be able to score the basketball and make hustle plays down the stretch."

The Wildcats trailed 41-21 early in the second half when they flicked a switch and got the offense rolling. Nijel Pack's 3-pointer — K-State's first after nine straight misses — got the ball rolling.

Mike McGuirl added a 3-pointer and Pack another during the 16-point spurt that finished with Kaosi Ezeagu's dunk off a Pack feed that closed it to 41-37 with 14:32 left.

But just as quickly, Oklahoma State answered with seven straight to get it back to 11. Ferron Favors' 3-pointer completed a 10-2 Cowboy run for a 51-39 advantage at the 12:31 mark and K-State did not make another serious charge.

Freshman Cade Cunningham scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half to lead Oklahoma State, which swept the season series with the Wildcats. Rondel Walker and Bryce Williams added 10 each for the Cowboys and Kalib Boone had nine rebounds.

Gordon had his most complete game to lead K-State, which also got 14 points from Pack and 10 from Davion Bradford to go with six rebounds.

"I was hoping that we would continue moving forward after a good two weeks," K-State coach Bruce Weber said, referring to promising performances against Texas Tech and Texas the last two times out. "I know we didn't get wins, but we played against really, really good teams and battled them and played them until the end.

"We came back Thursday and Friday and did not have very good practices. It was the first time since way back early that we didn't have the energy that we needed and the emotion that you need to prepare."

The Wildcats shot just 25% in the first half and missed all eight of their 3-point attempts, allowing Oklahoma State to finish the period with a 16-5 run. Throw in eight turnovers leading to 12 Oklahoma State points and it was not a winning combination.

Despite nine turnovers of their own in the half, the Cowboys had a 12-2 advantage on fast-break points as well.

K-State did pick it up the second half, shooting 55%, but could not get enough defensive stops. The Wildcats return home Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game against Kansas in the second edition of the Sunflower Showdown.