Analysis: Men’s basketball — what is the reason behind the recent struggle?

Head coach Jerome Tang looks back at the bench in the 90-78 loss to Kansas on Jan. 31. Since the game, K-State has lost three of its last four games. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Throughout a long season, it is common for teams to hit a rough stretch. This is no different for the Kansas State men’s basketball team. 

What has gone on the last three weeks hasn’t felt right; the games have gone the opposite way of what we saw in the first two months of the season. 

Since Jan. 24, K-State has only won two home games against an unranked Florida team and a TCU team missing one of its best players. 

In that period of time, the offense has gone silent. Once averaging 82 points per game, which was near the top of the Big 12, K-State has averaged just 69.3 points per game in its last seven games.

It hasn’t helped that guard Markquis Nowell and forward Keyontae Johnson have seemed to lose their early-season thunder. Nowell has been in a prolonged shooting slump since the first Kansas game, shooting a paltry 34% from the field over his last nine games. Johnson has been all right, but he is consistently getting himself into foul trouble, limiting his minutes on the court.

With Johnson off the floor and Nowell struggling with shooting, the Wildcats seem to lack options to compensate for the losses of these two players.

Forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin has had a nice season offensively, but he is very limited in how he can score. He shoots 24% from 3. He is a guy who primarily scores from the inside.

The same thing can be said about forwards David N’Guessan and Ismael Massoud and guards Desi Sills and Cam Carter. These players are all incredible at their individual roles but are not go-to scorers when it matters most.

Another culprit has been turnovers. K-State averages a league-high in turnovers at over 14 per game. The carelessness with the ball has killed the Wildcats, as that has been a big factor in its losses to teams like Texas and Texas Tech.

Head coach Jerome Tang has given them the tools necessary to be a winning basketball team. It comes down to how they will use his tools to get out of this rut and hit a hot streak to finish the season.