Defensive control over Marquette’s stars not enough in men’s basketball loss

Head coach Bruce Weber yells at his players to set up an offense during the men’s basketball game against Marquette in Bramlage Coliseum on Dec. 7, 2019. The Wildcats fell to the Golden Eagles 73-65. (Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

Men’s basketball lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles 73-65 on Saturday night in the first installment of the Big 12/Big East Challenge.

Kansas State struggled with shooting in all phases, shooting 32 percent (20-62) from the floor, 30 percent (7-23) from the three and 60 percent (18-30) in free throws.

Marquette senior guard Markus Howard entered the matchup leading the Big East in scoring and averaging 26 points per game, but K-State held him to 19 points on the night. Junior forward Jamal Cain gave the Golden Eagles a spark with 17 points off the bench.

The Wildcats struggled in the first half shooting 3-11 from the three and 9-34 from the field. K-State turned the ball over six times in the first 10 minutes.

Marquette went on a 6-0 run in 34 seconds forcing head coach Bruce Weber to call a timeout with the Wildcats trailing 22-13.

The Golden Eagles finished the half on another 6-0 run to take a 39-26 lead.

K-State kept Howard relatively quiet in the first half, allowing him only 10 points. He earned two personal fouls.

Marquette finished the half shooting 45 percent from the floor, including 7-11 from three.

K-State shot 26 percent from the floor and was 3-11 on three-point attempts. The Wildcats left plenty of points on the table, shooting 5-12 from the free-throw line.

Foul trouble was a factor for the Golden Eagles; five players garnered two fouls each in the first half, including Howard. The Wildcats ran into foul trouble as well. Redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra and senior forward Makol Mawien fouled out in the second half.

The Wildcats shifted momentum early in the second half, outscoring the Golden Eagles 14-6 in the first five minutes to trail 45-40.

K-State came within one point of tying the game, but Marquette continued to create separation despite foul trouble.

Then K-State went on a scoring drought while Marquette went on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 52-44. Another 7-0 brought the Golden Eagles to a 10-point lead at 59-49, and K-State could not overcome the deficit.

The Golden Eagles outscored the Wildcats 21-16 in the last nine minutes to seal a 73-65 victory.

“The problem was we shouldn’t have been down 13 at halftime,” Weber said postgame. “Now you have to fight back and use all that energy. They made a couple of plays, and we didn’t, and now it’s back to a seven-point game, and we are fighting our butts off.”

Freshman guard DaJuan Gordon finished with 10 points off the bench. After the game, he said the team has improvements to make going forward.

“We still played our same game, just gotta make free throws, make layups, play better defense,” Gordon said.

Diarra led the Wildcats with 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

After multiple games of shooting struggles from the Wildcats, Diarra said confidence will be the key in future games.

“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep our confidence, [we’re] not gonna win every game,” Diarra said. “We know how we lost this game.”

Howard led the Golden Eagles with 19 points and had plenty of help from a bench that collectively scored 30 points. Cain recorded his career-high with 17 points off the bench. The Golden Eagles finished the game shooting 42 percent from the floor and 55 percent from the three.

K-State will host Alabama State at 7 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN+.