For the first time since the 2012-13 season, a 5-0 record sits in the standings for K-State. However, a less-than-stellar offensive performance leaves head coach Jeff Mittie and company searching for answers.
Senior guard Haley Texada had 10 points and sophomore forward Breanna Lewis finished with nine points as K-State used four late free-throws to sink UT-Arlington (3-3) in a 45-41 victory.
It was not an easy start for the Wildcats as they fell behind 22-14 with 5:01 left in the first half, but a 12-3 run gave K-State a 26-25 advantage at halftime.
“I never felt we played the way we were capable of,” Mittie said. “We got sped up at times and then just struggled to make shots. It was just that kind of night.”
In the first half, the Wildcats only converted on 9 of 28 shots, including just one 3-pointer in eight attempts. They sat at eight points with 9:00 left in the half and Mittie pointed to rebounding as an issue for finding offensive possessions.
“I thought the effort was pretty good with the exception of our rebounding,” Mittie said. “We had times where people would box out and we just wouldn’t go chase them.”
Despite a quick basket from Lewis to open up the second half, rebounding remained a persistent issue, which led to a lack of offensive continuity.
“We saw some plays that I had never seen before and we saw some spacing that I had never seen before tonight,” Mittie said. “A lot of it was just players getting out of their comfort level and trying way to much.”
Sitting in a 29-29 tie with 14:00 left, K-State found itself on the free-throw line on a regular basis due to UT-Arlington’s physical interior play. The Mavericks closed the game with 23 fouls compared to just 11 for Mittie’s squad.
“I was just trying to focus on not being frustrated and focus on what I needed to focus on which was free-throws.” Lewis said of making the two free-throws that gave K-State the lead for good with :27 left.
With just under a month until Big 12 play begins, Mittie was left searching for the offensive continuity that he saw in the 72-43 win over UTEP in last week’s trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. However, with five of its six remaining games before Christmas break at home, he hopes his team can build off of an infrequent reality.
“Tonight we won a game that we really played pretty poorly (in),” Mittie said. “And those don’t happen very often.”