MANHATTAN, Kan. | Before Kansas State’s 88-68 victory Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum against Southeast Missouri State, assistant coach Brad Underwood explained how “competitively immature” the Wildcats were but also noted how receptive they’ve been to instruction.
“They’re learning every day,” he said.
And, sometimes, the lessons are harsh. After an impressive first half, in which K-State, 2-0, seized a commanding 39-16 lead, the Wildcats came out flat starting the second half, which also happened in Friday’s debut. Head coach Frank Martin wasn’t happy then, and he was incensed Sunday, yanking his starters in favor of a fresh five that included walk-ons Victor Ojeleye and Justin Werner.
“Coach Martin told us before the game that if we aren’t playing hard, he didn’t care and would substitute all five of us,” freshman forward Jamar Samuels said. “It was not a good feeling”
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Lapses in effort, especially on defense and on the boards, won’t be tolerated, no matter who you are.
“That carried over from the first half to start the second half,” Martin said. “It was something building up as the game went on. It’s laziness and selfishness”
The coach explained how one person wasn’t to blame because there were five Wildcats on the court, but one occasion, they all allowed the Redhawks, 0-2, to corral four consecutive offensive rebounds.
“It was unacceptable,” he said.
Even at the other end, where K-State shot 46 percent, gave out 23 assists on 36 field goals and turned the ball over only eight times.
“I’m disgusted with how we played offense,” Martin said.
Still, as the coach acknowledged afterwards, these issues can be corrected. And, at times Sunday, the Wildcats provided glimpses of what they might become.
There’s Samuels (16 points and eight rebounds), a jumping jack off the bench who is nothing but upside. Then there’s the slashing Dominique Sutton (12 points and eight rebounds), who almost had a double-double at the half. Senior forward Darren Kent’s confidence builds every minute he’s on the floor; he’s actually demanding the ball now and once he has it in his hands, he does something positive. He had career highs of 15 points and 12 rebounds Sunday.
And can’t forget about sophomore Fred Brown, who shook off some first-half issues to finish with a team-high 21 points and six assists.
In the first halves of K-State’s two games, the opposition has now scored a total of 36 points. In Sunday’s first half, the Redhawks shot 17.2 percent and committed 14 turnovers.
But the visitors scored 47 points in the second half, and that never sits well with Martin, which is why he threw his hands up in the air with about 6 minutes left in regulation after an uncontested three-pointer by Kenard Moore, who scored a game-high 31 points.
Plus, the Redhawks nearly outrebounded K-State.
Those lapses won’t be tolerated, though they won’t hurt the Wildcats in this portion of the nonconference schedule.
“We’re being lazy and selfish,” Martin said. “Our selfishness obviously broke our team.”