A 67-47 home loss to Texas was a humbling Big 12 opener for the Kansas State basketball team.
The Wildcats were no match for the Longhorns earlier this week with injured starters Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes watching from the bench, and things are only going to get tougher this weekend. Next up is a road game against No. 11 Texas Tech, one of the nation’s best defensive teams. K-State will be a big underdog on Saturday at United Supermarkets Arena.
Nevertheless, K-State players will enter the game with upset hopes knowing that ugly losses haven’t kept them down in the past.
In each of the past two years, K-State lost games by huge margins at West Virginia (89-51) and Oklahoma (81-51) but found a way to play well immediately afterward. Last season, the followed their loss to the Mountaineers by winning four of their next five. Two seasons ago, they responded from their loss to the Sooners by winning their next three.
“This is about learning and educating and not belittling them,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said on Thursday. “And then, how can we get better? We will get after it this afternoon and keep a good mental framework. Then we have a chance to go play a top 20 team at their place that beat you twice last year. Let’s just go at it and see what we can get done.”
Weber didn’t always take such a calm approach with his players after lopsided losses.
In his younger days, he occasionally got loud and critical with his teams. But he realized that had a negative impact. One loss often became two.
“You have got to be careful as a coach,” Weber said. “Years ago, I sometimes would just go crazy and you totally destroy them.”
Weber is more focused on trying to spark K-State’s sputtering offense. It will face quite the challenge on Saturday, as Texas Tech’s defense ranks first nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency system.
The Red Raiders haven’t allowed a single team to score 70 points this season and has held six opponents below 50. They are also undefeated at home.
“They are defending as well as anyone in the country,” Weber said. “It seems like they are playing with a lot of team togetherness and pride. That has given them a chance. They don’t care if it’s 66-62, they are just happy to win games. With our offensive struggles we just have to find ways to get open looks and make them when we have open looks.”
K-State is once again expected to play without Wade and Stokes.
But Weber doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. Much like in recent years, he wants K-State to bounce back from an ugly loss regardless of the circumstances.
“Those are two really good players, but we can’t worry about what we don’t have,” Weber said. “We have to worry about what we have and try to figure out what we can do with the bodies we have and make the most of it.”