PREVIEW: Men’s basketball team says it’s optimistic about second half of season

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Senior forward Makol Mawien dribbles towards the basket during the men's basketball game against Baylor in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 3, 2020. The Bears skated by with a six-point victory over the Wildcats. The final score was 73-67. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

It’s been a disappointing season to say the least for the men’s basketball team. By this time last season, Kansas State had already started on its path to redemption, course correcting after a rough start and would later secure a dominating win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship.

Right now, the Wildcats sit at 9-13 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 Conference play.

K-State lost four of their last five conference games, most recently falling 73-67 at the hands of top-ranked Baylor. The Wildcats stood a chance at an upset in the matchup, but turnovers and poor shot selection cost them a much needed win.

With the Iowa State Cyclones up next on the schedule — a team that has an identical 2-7 conference record — the Wildcats have a chance to get a big win and start the second half of conference play on the right foot.

“It’s real important,” senior forward Makol Mawien said. “We can’t focus on the past; we can only focus on what’s ahead. We just need to focus on our game plan and execute to the best of our ability.”

In the last two seasons, the Wildcats have had success in Ames, Iowa, against the Cyclones.

Last season, the Wildcats stunned the Cyclones as Barry Brown scored a game-winning layup in the final seconds, securing the win. Two years ago, the Wildcats shot lights out and routed the Cyclones on their home court.

“It would be nice to get a win as a step forward for us,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “[These guys] have got to know what they want to get out of the second half of conference season, and they got to go out and go do it. The only way that is going to happen is if we cut down on our mistakes and execute a little better.”

In K-State’s loss to the Baylor Bears on Monday, they had 16 turnovers which played a big part in the loss.

The Wildcats are optimistic about the remainder of the season, as they believe there is still room to make this season successful.

“Winning a road game in this conference is hard to do,” junior guard Mike McGuirl said. “We know that we have a task ahead of [us] playing Iowa State on the road. We believe we can beat them, and we expect to win. We just got to go in and play with a lot of confidence. Play hard and see what we can do.”

McGuirl is also confident about the second half of the conference season.

“It’s definitely motivating with how bad of a start we have had, but it has only been half of the Big 12 season,” McGuirl said. “We got the second half to play now and we can very easily turn around in this stretch.”

The Wildcats will begin the second half of the Big 12 season 7 p.m. Saturday night against Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum. The game will be on ESPN2.

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