Wildcats’ disappointing non-conference season ends on a low note

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K-State senior forward Thomas Gipson shoots around and is fouled by Southern Utah forward Cal Hanks on Friday, November 14 at Bramlage Coliseum. Gipson was the second-leading scorer on the team with 17 points.

Bruce Weber’s squad is searching for answers — answers that cannot come soon enough.

The Wildcats erased a 15-point deficit Saturday against Georgia after playing some of their worst basketball in the Weber era, only to collapse in the final minute in a 50-46 defeat. It marked the first time since 1987 that K-State has lost consecutive non-conference games at home.

After showing signs of getting blown out early in the second half, the Wildcats (7-6) turned the tide in the fading minutes of the game. Down 37-25 with 10:54 left in the game, K-State went on a 12-to-two run to bring the Bulldogs lead to within two-points with 5:49 remaining in the game.

K-State took the lead less than two minutes later on sophomore guard Nigel Johnson’s three-point shot that rimmed out before bouncing back down the basket. It was first-and only 3-point shot made by the Wildcats on the afternoon.

The second-half comeback was propelled by the Wildcats shooting from the free-throw line (nine of 11), which had plagued them last week against Texas Southern. Self-inflicted mistakes by Georgia also played a large part in K-State turning the game around. The Bulldogs turned the ball over five-times, while only scoring six-points during the five-minute stretch.

However, Georgia (8-3) was able to pull ahead in the final minute and keep the Wildcats at an arms length with free throws, wrapping up their eighth win of the season.

Irritated by his team’s performance in the opening 20 minutes, Weber limited his starters’ minutes in the second half, a move that nearly paid off. Senior forward Thomas Gipson, who came off of the bench to start the game, responded to Weber’s move, scoring 17 of his 19 points in the second half, including going seven for nine from the charity stripe.

Others didn’t respond. The disappointing performance started with K-State struggling to hit any shots. K-State finished the first half zero of seven from behind the arc, and five for 23 overall from the field.

To make matters worse, K-State ended the half with more turnovers (16) than points (12), which allowed the Bulldogs to get 16-points off of K-State’s mistakes and a 20-12 halftime lead.

The Wildcats will look to leave their underwhelming non-conference season behind them on Saturday against Oklahoma State to begin Big 12 play. Tipoff from Stillwater, Oklahoma is set for 11 a.m.

Game notes:

Gipson led the game in both scoring and rebounds with 19 points and nine rebounds. Gipson fouled out with 0:26 left in the game. Foster’s two points tie a career-low (Texas Tech 2013-14).

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