In a season full of tough nights, this will go down as one of the toughest.
The Oklahoma basketball team ran away from Kansas State for a 76-50 win Tuesday at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman to hand the Wildcats their fifth straight loss.
Playing with ten available scholarship players for the first time in over a month, the Wildcats fought their way to an early 22-17 lead. But the Sooners punched back immediately with a 15-2 run to close the half. They never looked back.
“Obviously, we got our butts kicked again,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “We’ve got to somehow get through that panic-state in a game. Hopefully, we can figure that out sooner rather than later.”
An abnormally stingy Sooner defense held K-State to only 28 points in the game’s final 26 minutes. The Wildcats shot just 36%, went 3-for-15 from three-point range, and turned it over twenty times.
K-State got precious little from leading scorer Mike McGuirl, who made only one of his nine shots and finished with more turnovers (4) than points (3). Second-leading scorer Nijel Pack missed his third straight game due to covid protocols. Davion Bradford finished with only two points after scoring in double figures in three of the last four games. DaJuan Gordon needed 14 shots to put up a team-high 13 points and turned it over four times along the way.
“We let their pressure get to us instead of taking a breath and slowing down,” Gordon said.
The prevailing issue might run deeper than that.
“We don’t have anybody who can just go make a play,” Weber said.
The Sooners coasted behind a 16-point night from De’Vion Harmon. Kur Kuath joined Harmon in double figures with 12 and was a menace defensively with five blocks.
Perhaps the lone positive of the night for K-State was the return of Kaosi Ezeagu from knee surgery. He scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds in his first action since Dec. 5, and provided much-needed relief for Bradford inside.
While Weber says Pack is now out of “covid jail,” he likely won’t be available for Saturday’s game against #14 West Virginia.
The Mountaineers will have gone 14 days without playing a game by the time they enter Bramlage Coliseum. Still, they are another Big 12 foe that has K-State outmanned on paper.
The Wildcats insist that there are no excuses as they continue the trudge through a gauntlet of a Big 12 schedule.