K-State falls short against Cowboys

Senior forward Wesley Iwundu looks for an open teammate during the basketball game between K-State and Oklahoma State in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 22, 2017. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team led for the first 23 minutes and 57 seconds of the game against Oklahoma State Wednesday night. But the Wildcats ran out of steam early in the second half and Oklahoma State made them pay. Once the Cowboys took a lead, they would never relinquish it, going on to beat the Wildcats 80-68.

The Wildcats are now 17-11 and 6-9 in the Big 12. It was the fourth straight home loss for the Wildcats, who have not one in Bramlage since Jan. 21, when K-State beat West Virginia.

“It’s nothing confusing,” senior forward D.J. Johnson said about the struggles at home. “It’s been the same thing every time we lose. Momentum shifts and it’s us not sharing the ball and not getting the stops we need. It’s not a lost recipe. We know what we need to do.”

The start was not the problem for the Wildcats. K-State pulled ahead 8-0 early in the half, meanwhile Oklahoma State’s first basket didn’t come until the 14:10 mark in the half.

K-State was aided by some hot shooting from the 3-point line. The Wildcats were five of 11 from the arc in the half. Midway through the half, three straight 3s gave the Wildcats a 33-19 lead — their biggest of the game.

The Oklahoma State offense did not stay silent for long. After K-State took the 14-point advantage, the Cowboys responded with a 14-0 run, capped by a technical foul on K-State sophomore guard Kamau Stokes for arguing with officials after a few questionable calls.

“I think the momentum shifted,” senior forward Wesley Iwundu said. “From there Oklahoma State went on a run and did a very good job of doing it.”

An Oklahoma State 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer cut the Wildcats’ lead to 39-38.

K-State came out after the half just as flat as they ended. They made a few quick baskets, but Oklahoma State quickly took over. The Cowboys took their first lead of the game with 16:03 remaining and never looked back.

The Cowboys steadily extended their lead throughout the rest of the game. They pulled ahead 65-56 after a stretch of six consecutive baskets while holding K-State scoreless from the field for over three minutes.

“Our defense was slowing a little bit in the second half,” Iwundu said. “We got the stops, but we just were not getting the rebounds. I guess they just need to hustle us a little bit more, and we need to correct those things for these last few games.”

K-State would make a small run but never posed a real threat down the stretch, Oklahoma State was able to see the game through the final buzzer.

“I thought we had a couple other chances, but we did not finish,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “It was disappointing. I thought our guys were ready to play. I thought they would play well and they did. But, when it got to that gut-check time, we did not make the right plays.”

Iwundu paced the Wildcats with 21 points, with his biggest weapon being the free-throw. He was 14 of 17 from the charity stripe.

Up next the Wildcats will head to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the last-place Oklahoma Sooners Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU.

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