K-State men’s basketball falls to Kansas in Sunflower Showdown

Sophomore forward Dean Wade goes up for a shot during the first half of the basketball game between K-State and KU in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 6. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

There was no last second travel controversy this time around, but the final result in the second Sunflower Showdown this season was the same. The Kansas State men’s basketball team fell to Kansas 74-71 Monday night in front of a raucous Bramlage Coliseum crowd.

“There’s no moral victories, it doesn’t do us any good,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We have to find a way to win.”

The game got off to a sloppy start for both teams, as five of the first six possessions resulted in turnovers, including the Wildcats’ first three. But K-State picked it up from there.

After going down 2-0, the Wildcats went on a 20-6 run over the span of almost four minutes. The Wildcats were able to get out in transition often and shoot well in that span. Sophomore forward Dean Wade came out strong for the second straight game and hit some big early shots, including two 3s.

Kansas chose to have 6-foot-8 guard Josh Jackson defend Wade and Wade took advantage of the mismatch all night long en route to his team-high 20 points.

“We felt he could take advantage … (Jackson) is really really good, but I don’t think post defense is his strength, so we were able to get it inside,” Weber said. “Then they put (Lagerald Vick) on him, so he was able to go inside (again). He made big plays. We probably needed to get it to him more.”

However, the Wildcats were not able to sustain their early success for long.

The Jayhawks went on a 25-9 run over the final 10 minutes or so to pull ahead by six. The Wildcats would shorten the Jayhawks’ lead just before the break, but still trailed 37-35 going into halftime. The Wildcats had trouble defending Jackson, who had 11 points in the first half.

K-State then came out of halftime flat and Kansas took advantage. The Jayhawks went ahead by as much as nine early on in the second half, with K-State unable to put the ball through the hoop.

The Wildcats finally found an offensive punch midway through the half and slowly chipped away at the Jayhawks’ lead. K-State finally gained their first lead of the half 60-59 with 4:42 left in the game, but the Wildcats were unable to keep their momentum going down the stretch.

Kansas pulled ahead by six with less than a minute left and the Wildcats couldn’t quite muster a comeback, falling 74-71. The Wildcats fall to 16-8 and 5-6 in the Big 12 with the loss.

“We fought hard to the end, we just didn’t make the right plays at the right time I guess,” senior forward Wesley Iwundu said. “We fought, I can’t be mad at that. We just didn’t get over the hump.”

K-State was led in scoring by Wade; Iwundu and sophomore guard Kamau Stokes were also also big for the Wildcats. Iwundu stuffed the stat sheet in possibly his final game against Kansas as he finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Stokes’ three-point shooting was big; he finished with 16 points, 15 of those coming from behind the arc.

K-State will now have all week to prepare for their next game Saturday when they take on West Virginia in Morgantown.

“This is a very forgiving league, you’ve got to put the game that you just played behind you and look forward to the next,” Iwundu said. “We got another big game coming up Saturday, so anything can happen … This ones over with, we’re looking forward to West Virginia on Saturday and so on.”

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