Kansas State University

Oklahoma State surges past Kansas State 80-68

Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll grabs from K-State’s D.J. Johnson on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.
Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll grabs from K-State’s D.J. Johnson on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum. The Wichita Eagle

Bruce Weber looked like a basketball coach who knew his team’s NCAA Tournament hopes, and possibly his job, might have been on the line Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum.

Weber was more animated than usual while he paced the sideline, yelling at players to exert maximum energy, coming so far onto the court that he earned warnings from officials to stay in his coaching box and then dropping to one knee and trying to will the ball in the basket with body language.

At one point, he shouted the following message to his team: “Want to make the tournament? You have to play your (butts) off.”

Wednesday’s box score

The extra emotion didn’t have the desired effect. Oklahoma State defeated K-State 80-68, rallying from 14 down in the first half to not only win but pull away.

“It was a big game,” Weber said. “We got a win at Texas and got our head above water. I thought we played with (energy). I thought we were ready to play at the beginning.… We did some things well, but when it came to the gut-check part of the game they made all the plays.”

The result was a crippling blow to the Wildcats (17-11, 6-9 Big 12), and a harmful one to Weber. K-State lost its fourth straight home game, the team’s longest skid at Bramlage since 2000. The Octagon of Doom nickname that gained traction under former coach Frank Martin and held up in Weber’s first two seasons now feels like a thing of the past.

That the loss came against the Cowboys (19-9, 8-7) and former K-State assistant Brad Underwood, whom some fans lobbied to replace Weber a year ago, will add frustration. So much so, that Weber is beginning to hear a smattering of boos.

“That’s just fans. That is their choice,” Weber said. “There were a lot of people cheering. We have great fans here. We just have to keep fighting. That’s all we can do. We can’t focus on negativity. We have got to focus on being positive.”

Positivity could be hard to come by as K-State prepares for its final three games, because this was close to a make-or-break game for the Wildcats.

A victory would have significantly boosted its NCAA Tournament chances, possibly to the point of only needing one or two more victories to feel safe about making the bracket. A loss puts its back against the wall, and time is running out.

The opportunity for a statement victory was there for the taking Wednesday. K-State simply couldn’t take advantage.

Jawun Evans spoiled the day by leading Oklahoma State with 21 points, while Leyton Hammonds erupted in the second half on his way to 18. K-State had no answers for either of them. They played so well it hardly mattered that two of the Cowboys usual primary scorers, Phil Forte and Jeffrey Carroll, combined for 10 points.

K-State let a hot start go to waste. It began the game looking better than it had in quite some time, playing excellent defense and getting to the basket on offense. The Wildcats held the Cowboys for the first 5:50 and jumped ahead 33-19 on a three-pointer from Wesley Iwundu with 6:11 remaining before halftime.

But Oklahoma State answered with a 14-0 run and Evans drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to pull within 39-38 at the half.

“We got off to a great start, a real great start,” Iwundu said after leading K-State with 21 points and 9 rebounds. “I don’t know what happened.”

Several factors led to the shift in momentum. Oklahoma State scored its first points shortly after Barry Brown missed an uncontested layup in transition and the Cowboys started getting to what seemed like every loose ball. The three-pointers Oklahoma State missed early began falling and the ball security K-State showed early began to falter.

“Phil Forte did what a senior does and he dove on the floor for a loose ball,” Underwood said. “I got upset in the timeout and jumped them, because our energy was bad. Phil made that hustle play and it really got us going. It kind of picked up our energy level.”

The Wildcats weren’t helped by a technical foul against Kamau Stokes. The sophomore guard was upset about the officiating and visibly voiced his frustration with the referees over multiple possessions. The officials gave him many warnings and Weber asked him to relax, but Stokes didn’t listen and eventually picked up a technical when Forte appeared to get away with a travel late in the first half.

It was all Oklahoma State from there.

No one could seem to help Iwundu in the scoring department. Dean Wade had 11, but no other K-State players reached double figures.

“We played different ball,” senior forward D.J. Johnson said after scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds. “We didn’t share much in the second half, I didn’t think. And we didn’t get enough stops.”

K-State will hope for more when it returns to the court Saturday at Oklahoma. The Sooners are struggling this year, but victory won’t be easy. The Wildcats have lost seven of their last nine, creating flashbacks to Weber’s final season at Illinois when he finished 2-12 and was fired in 2012.

“I’m not worried about that,” Weber said. “I am worried about Oklahoma. We played a really tough schedule, we fought through some injuries, we fought through some tough games. We have a chance to be in the NCAA (Tournament). That’s all we can worry about. That is the most important thing.”

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

OKLAHOMA STATE 80, KANSAS STATE 68

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Oklahoma State

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Hammonds

34

7-14

3-3

10

0

3

18

Solomon

12

1-5

1-2

5

1

4

3

Evans

27

4-16

11-12

4

9

2

21

Forte

32

0-2

2-2

3

0

2

2

Carroll

28

4-9

0-0

7

0

3

8

McGriff

28

2-3

2-2

3

0

1

6

Averette

20

6-6

1-2

1

3

2

13

Dillard

14

4-5

0-0

2

1

4

9

N’Guessan

3

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Dziagwa

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

28-60

20-23

35

14

21

80

Percentages: FG .467, FT .870. Three-Point Goals: 4-16, .250 (Evans 2-5, Dillard 1-2, Hammonds 1-5, Forte 0-1, McGriff 0-1, Carroll 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 10 (19 PTS). Blocked Shots: 2 (Dillard, Hammonds). Turnovers: 10 (Dillard 2, Evans 2, Forte 2, Solomon 2, Averette, Carroll). Steals: 6 (Carroll 3, Evans, Forte, McGriff). Technical Fouls: None.

TableStyle: SP-bkwideplayersCCI Template: SP-bkwideplayers

Kansas State

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Iwundu

36

3-9

14-17

9

2

2

21

Johnson

27

2-5

3-3

6

0

4

7

Wade

32

4-6

0-0

4

4

3

11

Brown

36

3-10

1-3

3

2

4

7

Stokes

32

2-9

3-3

1

2

4

9

Sneed

17

1-4

2-2

1

0

1

4

Ervin

16

3-6

2-2

4

1

2

9

Budke

2

0-0

0-0

1

0

1

0

Patrick

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Maurice

1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

0

Totals

200

18-49

25-30

29

11

21

68

Percentages: FG .367, FT .833. Three-Point Goals: 7-21, .333 (Wade 3-3, Stokes 2-6, Ervin 1-2, Iwundu 1-4, Sneed 0-2, Brown 0-4). Team Rebounds: 2. Team Turnovers: 14 (17 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Iwundu, Johnson, Wade). Turnovers: 14 (Stokes 5, Brown 3, Iwundu 3, Ervin, Johnson, Wade). Steals: 7 (Ervin 3, Brown, Johnson, Stokes, Wade). Technical Fouls: Stokes, 2:22 first.

Half: Kansas State 39-38.

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