The Wildcats came into the Sunflower Showdown off a massive 85-46 win against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Feb. 23, showing the potential that this veteran team has to offer.
But despite a strong start with an early 5-0 lead against the Jayhawks, K-State’s fate quickly changed as poorly called fouls made it impossible for starting players to remain in the game.
Senior forward Dean Wade earned two fouls within five minutes of each other, putting the team in a sticky situation with almost nine minutes left in the half. Wade was immediately pulled off the court and did not return to the game until after the half.
Head Coach Burce Weber said “the second foul (on Wade) was a frustration foul.”
He added that some of this came from the fact that Wade has not practiced in weeks.
The Jayhawks capitalized on Wade’s absence by quickly pulling ahead with the lead.
With Wade out of the game, bench players stepped up in an effort to regain control of the game. Sophomore forward Levi Stockard III, sophomore guard Mike McGuirl and junior forward Austin Trice all made a difference, but they tallied plenty of fouls too.
Junior forward Makol Mawien and McGuirl each earned two fouls. Senior guard Barry Brown, Trice and Stockard earned one foul each.
When the teams headed to the locker room at the half, the Wildcats were down 34-27 and were never able to find their stride.
Brown said emotions “went high and low and high and low throughout the game.”
When the Wildcats returned from the locker room, they went from a nine-point to a 14 point deficit in no time.
While the second half was called more evenly, the first half put K-State in a tough spot to play like their normal aggressive selves without having to play scared.
Wade tallied another three calls, fouling him out. Mawien also earned two more to put him in a tough position and junior forward Xavier Sneed and freshman guard Shaun Neal-Williams also gathered one.
Junior forward Mitch Lightfoot tallied two fouls, Garrett added another two, redshirt sophomore guard K.J. Lawson added two fouls and redshirt junior forward Dedric Lawson earned a foul only putting them at eight total fouls on the night.
With such a large disadvantage, the fouls that the Jayhawks earned in the second half didn’t make a difference because it was too late. The Jayhawks had the confidence and the power to outlast the Wildcats.
“I feel like we weren’t fully prepared and we have to forget about it and move on,” senior guard Kamau Stokes said after the game.
All in all, the Wildcats will need to work towards playing a cleaner game because 17 fouls in one game will not help when it comes to holding the lead in the Big 12 with Texas Tech.
The Wildcats will take on Baylor at home on March 2 at 7 p.m.