PREVIEW: Men’s basketball looking to right ship against Texas A&M

West Virginia competes against K-State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, on January 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Scott Weaver)

After recording the worst loss margin in school history on Wednesday, the men’s basketball team (5-12, 1-8) looks to break a seven-game losing streak against former conference foe Texas A&M (7-7, 2-6) on Saturday.

The game is part of the annual Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Ahead of the match-up, head coach Bruce Weber went back to the drawing board. As of late, Weber is vocal about wanting to return to a traditional style of basketball — playing with multiple bigs and utilizing the paint.

Against Baylor on Wednesday, both freshman Davion Bradford and sophomore Kasoi Ezeagu started but didn’t see much playing time together on the floor, which Weber said he regrets.

“We didn’t have a great start, but we did have good shots — we just didn’t make them,” Weber said. “If you make two of those, you know — Kasoi and Davion both make a layup, Mike [McGuirl] has an open three — the game at that point is a lot different. I think once they got on that run and got out in transition, we were worried about transition so much, but it was actually with the other guys when we went smaller that we had issues with that. We’ll definitely use it again, but we have to throw them the ball more.”

For the last few weeks, Weber wanted to move away from the perimeter and feed the post considering the inconsistency and lack of effectiveness in shooting the ball. If the Wildcats feed the post, easier looks will open up for everyone on the floor.

“We struggle scoring, we haven’t shot it well. We’re just trying to convince our guys that if we get it inside that maybe that will help ease the pressure for our perimeter play,” Weber said. “Then, if they start backing it in, maybe we’ll get a better shot.”

With the two-big lineup, Weber has one concern — Ezeagu’s conditioning. After missing seven weeks because of an injury, Ezeagu is still getting back into game shape, something Weber said will “take him a little bit of time.”

Along with getting the ball down low, Weber also wants to see the turnover numbers drop significantly after having back-to-back games with at least 20 turnovers.

“Turnovers have been a problem, especially as of late,” Weber said. “We’ve got to get that thing around 10 to give us a chance. We need more control of the game, and if we can be a little more patient and get it inside — that’ll help with transition defense.”

On the bright side, Kansas State faces a team that also struggles to score the ball. On the year, A&M shoots just 41.6 percent from the field and turns it over on 20 percent of possessions. The Aggies are good in transition but struggle with shots off the screen and in the post. The team is only 29.1 percent from three-point range.

Texas A&M ranks No. 195 in the country in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

To have a chance in this game, Weber thinks his team only needs to keep the score down in a reasonable range.

The Wildcats will handle six-foot-seven forward Emanuel Miller who leads the Aggies in scoring with 15 points per game. A different kind of “old-school” player, as Weber put it, Miller utilizes the elbows and wings more than the perimeter. He hasn’t made a three this year (0-6), which is something K-State struggles with this year.

The Aggies also provide an out-of-conference look that could provide a jump start for the final stretch of the season for K-State.

“It’s a different opponent. Buzz [Williams] gets them to play hard,” Weber said. “I hope for our sake it’s something we can rise up, have a good win and have a jump start into this last stretch of the season.”

Saturday’s game in Bramlage Coliseum starts at 11 a.m. with broadcast coverage on ESPNU. Radio coverage can be found on the K-State Sports Network.