Slow start against Tennessee downs Wildcats

Sophomore guard Kamau Stokes makes a shot on the basket during the K-State game against West Virginia in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 21, 2017. (File Photo by Nathan Jones | The Collegian)

A slow start doomed the Kansas State men’s basketball team in Knoxville, Tennessee, as it fell to the Volunteers 70-58.

K-State outscored Tennessee in the second half 36-31, but the 17-point halftime deficit was too much to overcome.

“We did not match Tennessee’s toughness to start the game,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We took some tough shots, didn’t rebound and allowed them to get easy points in transition.”

That being said, Weber was pleased with his team’s comeback effort.

“I was proud of our fight to get back into it in the second half, but we didn’t do a good job of making the smart play to close the gap further,” Weber said.

Sophomore guard Barry Brown led the way for the Wildcats with 17 points along with four assists. Senior forward Wesley Iwundu had a solid overall game, collecting 14 points, six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore guard Kamau Stokes was the only other Wildcat to reach double figures with 11 points.

Collectively, K-State struggled from the field, shooting a mere 39.6 percent. Rebounding also played a crucial part in deciding the game as the Wildcats were out-rebounded 43-29, including allowing 16 offensive rebounds.

The Wildcats will look to end their two-game skid and pick up a win at home against the TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

The TCU game might be a must-win for K-State as things won’t get easy after that, since the Wildcats will play the Big 12’s “Big Three” in Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia.

The Horned Frogs and Wildcats will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPNews.