Baylor proves to be real Bear in Wildcats’ loss

Senior forward Justin Edwards hangs his hands over his head as he shuffles off the court after fouling out with 16 seconds left in the second half of the Wildcats' 72-82 loss to No. 21 Baylor on Feb. 10, 2016, inside Bramlage Coliseum. Edwards led the Wildcats with 19 points along with fellow senior forward D.J. Johnson. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Slow starts are not necessarily uncommon for K-State. They let Oklahoma — the No. 1 team in the country at the time — jump out to a 9-0 start but won the game handily Saturday night.

Unfortunately, falling behind by nine before the under-16 timeout would not prove effective against No. 21 Baylor, as K-State lost 72-82 Wednesday night.

K-State head coach Bruce Weber warned of such things. Sunday night, just before the Super Bowl, he texted his squad, still riding the high after knocking off the Sooners, telling them that “their 24 hours of celebration was up” and that it was time to get back to business.

“I don’t think we were locked in like we were for (Oklahoma) last Saturday,” junior forward D.J. Johnson said.

Johnson, a bright spot on a night in which K-State was never ahead, co-led K-State’s roster in scoring with 19 points along with senior guard Justin Edwards. Johnson also grabbed 8 rebounds.

“I felt the guys that got the ball to me inside a lot,” Johnson said. “I thought I did an alright job posting up, and they saw me on my seal and that was the key to it.”

The lack of intensity to start the game was a surprise to Johnson, who said he thought his team maintained that fire throughout the past couple practices leading up to Wednesday’s game.

“I thought we had a really good practice on Monday,” Johnson said. “We were aggressive when we played against each other. We were competitive. And (Tuesday) I felt the same thing. I just don’t know what happened.”

Weber looked at his team’s youth to diagnose K-State’s ho-hum start.

“Maturity,” Weber said. “We still have a young and inexperienced team. We were the ones that should have been playing mad because if you go back and watch the tape, we should have won the game in Waco, (Texas). They came very focused and aggressive, took it to us and made big plays.”

The Bears extended their lead to as much as 14 in the first half, hitting 48.3 of their shots, including 44.4 percent from behind the arc. Baylor finished out the game making over 50 percent from 3, while it took K-State 39 game minutes for Edwards’ to hit two 3s in the final minute of the game.

The Bears finished pretty well from the 3-point line as they ended the night at 7-13, including three from sophomore guard Al Freeman. Freeman led all players in scoring with 21 points. Freeman, along with four other Bear players, were perfect from the free throw line as Baylor shot a stunning 29-30 from the stripe.

“I love the free-throw shooting,” Baylor head coach Scott Drew said. “The players were really focused tonight and it started with the upper classmen. They were determined out there.”

Baylor found themselves with a spot of foul trouble after taking that 14-point lead and K-State made their move. The Wildcats went on a 13-2 run to get within three points.

The Bears would respond with a 14-8 run to end the half up 11 points.

That would be the first of several responses to a K-State run.

In the second half, K-State cut the Bears’ lead to as close as five twice but could never get completely over the hump.

“We had to be more sound, take better care of the ball and get a little better shot,” Weber said. “We tried to make a few plays at times when nothing was there. We missed a few layups and a few 3s, and we had 19 offensive rebounds that only seemed like it was magical and everything was going in. Tonight it was not.”

Even with the quick two 3-pointers by Edwards at both the 0:59 minute mark and the 0:49 minute mark, Baylor’s free throw shooting did not falter as the Bears made their final 10 shots from the line to close out the win.

With the loss, K-State falls to 14-10 overall and 3-8 in the Big 12, and Baylor moves to two games behind the Big 12 lead with an 18-6 overall record and a 7-4 Big 12 record.

The Wildcats head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, next to try for their second win over Oklahoma State after beating them 89-73 at home in January.

“We got to put this behind us, like we should have put Saturday behind us,” Johnson said. “We need to just focus on the next opponent and task. Getting this road win would be a big step for us. We need two or three road wins. Our ultimate goal is to make the tournament, so we are going to have to make a run here late.”

Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.