The Kansas State Wildcats faced a top15 opponent for the third time in a week on Saturday. With a senior star out due to injury, they lost to the Mountaineers 85-66
It was a physical game. Kansas State had opportunities but didn’t have the horses to hang 40 minutes with West Virginia.
Bruce Weber’s team was at a disadvantage from the beginning.
Due to an ankle injury, Senior D.J. Johnson was not in the lineup. That put the pressure on Dean Wade and the Wildcat bench.
Wade started strong.
On the ‘Cats opening possession, he made an aggressive move to the basket and kicked out to Wesley Iwundu for a 3-pointer. That was promising.
The Wildcats started briefly in a two-three zone defense and used it off and on throughout the game. It helped them force 18 turnovers but they also gave up 19 of their own.
Midway through the first half, three Wildcats had 2 fouls and three subs Isaiah Maruice
Austin Budke and Caribe Ervin were on the court at the same time.
Add to that, the ‘Cats went over 8 minutes between baskets in the first half. Despite that, they were able to even the game 34 points apiece at the break
In addition to the first half scoring drought, Kansas State had a similar drought in the 2nd half.
Poor execution on offense is a common problem with this team. A week ago at Baylor, Kansas State scored only 19 points in the second half but hung on to win.
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Early in Saturday’s game, the ‘Cats saw a lot of opportunity to hit three point shots.
The Mountaineers adjusted and the ‘Cats didn’t, shooting just 35% in each half.
Coach Bruce Weber was creative with lineups but that only lasted so long.
It is especially important to know that Saturday’s game was the last regular season game against a ranked team for the Wildcats.
They need to focus on a strong finish to earn big to the NCAA tournament.