Slow start dooms Kansas State against Kansas


Jan 31, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks forward Cliff Alexander (2) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) defend against Kansas State Wildcats guard Justin Edwards (14) in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The first five to 10 minutes can make or break a basketball game.

The Kansas State Wildcats proved that Saturday afternoon in a 68-57 loss to cross-state rival Kansas Jayhawks.

The Wildcats converted one of their first 11 tries, allowing Kansas to race out to a 20-5 advantage by the 11:59 mark. Meawhile, the Jayhawks were 9-of-12 during that opening stretch.

K-State ended the first half hitting only 6-of-35 attempts from the field. That figures to 17.1 percent, which tied for the fourth-lowest field goal percentage in a half in school history.

The second half was much different for the visitors.

Despite outscoring the Jayhawks 40-to-35 in the final 20 minutes of the contest, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome the deficit in the tough road environment of Allen Fieldhouse.

Jan 31, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Nigel Johnson (23) shoots against the Kansas Jayhawks in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won the game 68-57. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

"“I was very disappointed in our competitive spirit on the defensive end at the start of the game,” coach Bruce Weber told after the loss. “We’re a good defensive team, we talked about staying in character and doing what we do, but we let them get layup after layup to start the game.”"

But it wasn’t just the defense that didn’t hold up its end of the bargin.

The ‘Cats’ offense didn’t either, and it wasn’t just the 17 percent shooting in the first half either.

Nino Williams, who was doubtful for the game, played, but it was obvious that he wasn’t playing at 100 percent. He was only 1-of-7 shooting and had four points.

Javon Thomas was 1-of-3 shooting with two points.

Wesley Iwundu was 2-of-6 for four points.

K-State doesn’t have the depth to compete with the likes of KU when one, or, in this case, multiple players have an off night.

Thomas Gipson and Marcus Foster, who both scored 19 points, can’t carry the load all the time for the ‘Cats if they want to contend.

Even the Wildcat players recognize this need:

"“Those are our two leading scorers and we have got to help them out,” freshman forward Malek Harris, who scored two points, told the Kansas City Star after the game. “We knew that they are going to put points up on the board, but we didn’t have a great day off the bench, period. We know we can bounce back and make plays and play more together, but that’s tough.”"

One positive thing to take away from the game outside of the team’s play in the second half — turnovers or the lack thereof.

Kansas State only had seven for the game.

K-State fans should be happy they only lost by 11. It could have been and probably should have been much worse.

Despite the miserable first half, the Wildcats did and showed enough in the second half, that fans shouldn’t be too depressed about the loss.

The ‘Cats will have a shot at revenge on Feb. 23.

In the meantime, K-State wraps up a two-game road trip at Texas Tech Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 8 p.m. Central time.