K-State drops key game in Lawrence

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K-State Wildcat junior forward Makol Mawien spins to look for the basket as Jayhawk junior forward Mitch Lightfoot falls to the floor. K-State fell to the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse 64-49. (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

The K-State men’s basketball team could not complete the sweep of in-state rival Kansas in Lawrence on Monday night. The 64-49 loss sets K-State back to 21-7 and 11-4 in Big 12 play.

K-State had an almost dream start to the game. They jumped out to a 5-0 lead after junior forward Makol Mawien knocked down a three. The Wildcats held KU scoreless for almost five minutes of play.

KU came storming back, though. They eventually took a lead with nearly 12 minutes to play in the half.

Senior forward Dean Wade picked up his second foul of the half with 8:48 to play. He would miss the rest of the half and K-State suffered from his absence.

Less than a minute later, Mawien picked up his second foul. K-State was down to just back-up bigs.

Kansas took advantage of K-State’s lack of post depth, building a 34-27 lead by half time.

The second half saw Kansas explode out of the gate and build its lead up to 11 points quickly. Their lead would hover around that amount for most of the second half.

Mawien was repeatedly abused by Kansas’ forwards — especially junior forward Mitch Lightfoot — who successfully took the ball to the basket on offensive possession after offensive possession and sent him packing on the other end of the court.

“[Lightfoot] is very physical,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “He’s played well against us, you have to give him a lot of credit.”

Meanwhile, on offense, K-State could not get their normal shots to fall. Mawien, senior guard Barry Brown and junior forward Xavier Sneed all had multiple good looks rim out early.

Brown scored only four points in 35 minutes. He was 1-8 from the field on the night.

“The switching kind of kept us stagnant, we did not make the right reads off the ball,” Brown said.

K-State refused to drive to the basket in the second half. They shot only 23 percent in the half as a result. They shot a measly 32 percent on the whole game.

The Kansas lead reached 16 points with 8:51 to play in the game; they seemingly could not miss after starting the game off so cold.

K-State had plenty of opportunities to seize momentum, and maybe a chance of a comeback, down the stretch, but failed to capitalize on any of them.

Sneed could not pull down a wide-open alley-oop dunk with one hand to answer a KU layup on the other end. Brown’s pass was a little high, but that is a play Sneed should make.

Wade fouled out with 3:36 to play, essentially shutting down any chance for a comeback. Wade had eight points and five rebounds at that point.

“[Wade] hasn’t practiced in three weeks, it all caught up to him,” Weber said. “It’s better to have him in games than not in games.”

KU coasted to an easy win from there out, extending their lead out to 15 points at the final buzzer.

Senior guard Kamau Stokes led K-State with 12 points and four assists on the night. He played all but five minutes of the contest.

K-State remains on top of the Big 12 for now, but Texas Tech can tie them at 11-4 with a win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, we’re still in first place. In order to stay there, we have to worry about Saturday,” Stokes said. “Our confidence is at the point where we don’t want to share first place with anybody.”

K-State will host Baylor next Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum at 7:00 p.m. The game will air on ESPN2.

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