A bad pass, missed opportunities and some casual defense got Kansas State coach Bruce Weber looking a little like his predecessor Frank Martin on Monday afternoon.
Weber launched into a timeout tirade midway through the first half of No. 25 Kansas State’s 70-50 victory over South Dakota.
"Play like a Top 25 team. Have a swagger. Have a confidence. Put people away," he yelled as the crowd cheered him on.
"That’s where you should have won the game," Weber said. "That’s where it should have been 16, 18, 20 (point spread) and instead it’s 12 at halftime."
The Wildcats responded, and the team finished its nonconference season on a solid note despite missing starting point guard Angel Rodriguez and backup point guard Martavious Irving.
"Coach got real rowdy in the huddle and got us motivated," forward Nino Williams said, "so we came out, played with intensity, then we let our defense dictate our offense."
Williams led the team with 16 points and also snagged seven rebounds.
Weber credited some of that production to increased competition within the team, particularly with former reserve and current starter Shane Southwell.
"When Shane kind of took (Nino’s) spot a couple weeks ago when he got hurt, now there’s competition," Weber said. "And what happens with competition? Either you lay down or you step up to the challenge, and he stepped up to the challenge."
Williams attributed his own success to following Weber’s instructions and continuing to rebound.
"The middle of the zone was open, so Coach told us if we cut, we’d be open, and I was making good cuts, and I got a couple easy offensive rebounds," Williams said. "That’s how I pretty much got all my scoring."
Rodney McGruder added 15 for the Wildcats. Karim Rowson led the Coyotes with 14 points.
The Wildcats (11-2) dominated the boards and shot 50 percent from the floor, nearly 20 percent better their opponents, who managed 32.7 percent.
Kansas State entered halftime with a 12-point lead, but South Dakota (6-9) cut that advantage in half before the Wildcats pulled away late.
The Coyotes started the second half with an 11-5 run. They trailed 37-31 when Trevor Gruis made two free throws with 15:13 to play.
The teams traded baskets as the half continued, and South Dakota stayed close. With fewer than eight minutes to play, the Wildcats led 44-39.
"We screened better," South Dakota coach Dave Boots said. "We didn’t have very good movement the first half with our four and five and got that going a little bit better the second half. We got better ball reversal off that and opened up the floor a little bit."
The tide turned, however, when Jordan Henriquez converted a three-point play, beginning a 10-0 run for the Wildcats.
Williams was intentionally fouled on a breakaway layup and sank both free throws. On the Wildcats’ ensuing possession Southwell drained a three-pointer. The next time down the floor, Southwell got a bucket in the lane, and the next he scored from the baseline, and Kansas State led 56-39 with 5:23 to play.
"I didn’t notice until the timeout came, and then I looked up, and I was like, ’Whoa!’ ” Southwell said. "It was a big run because they were in the game for the whole second half."
The Coyotes could not muster another comeback.
Kansas State created distance early and largely maintained it throughout the first half after jumping out to an 11-2 lead in the first five minutes. The Coyotes pulled within 15-8 when Brandon Bos converted a traditional three-point play and then sank a three-pointer.
The Wildcats’ size in the post continually posed a problem for South Dakota. The combination of seven-footers Henriquez and Adrian Diaz made it difficult for the Coyotes to score inside early. Henriquez returned to the bench shortly after committing two quick fouls, but D.J. Johnson picked up the slack by scoring a second-chance basket right after entering the game.
That shot started a 9-0 run that gave Kansas State a 24-8 edge with 7:43 to play in the first half. The Wildcats were outrebounding the Coyotes 14-5. At that point in the game, South Dakota was making less than 15 percent of its field goals.
With the nonconference season over, Kansas State looks forward to its Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State on Saturday.
"Now you move on," Weber said, "and hope we get Angel and (Irving) back for practice by Wednesday.”