After losing to Kansas on a ridiculous, uncalled travel last week, the Kansas State Wildcats didn’t leave anything to the officials while dispatching the Oklahoma Sooners 75-64 in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon.
Kansas State started hot out of the gate, nailing threes for its first three field goals while the Sooners struggled to answer. Darrion Strong-Moore got his first start of the season for OU and was responsible for the team’s first made bucket, but the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run after that for an early 14-3 lead.
Kruger called a timeout to stop the bleeding, and the Sooners were able to settle in to an extent, getting better shots and narrowing the K-State lead to seven. But Kansas State popped off another 7-0 run to stretch the lead to 23-9 by the under-12 timeout.
Matt Freeman hit from the corner to finally end the OU scoring drought and make it 25-12. Then it was K-State’s turn to miss shots—they went three minutes without a bucket. Unfortunately the Sooners couldn’t draw closer despite three Wildcats turnovers in four possessions.
Lon Kruger obviously wanted to mix things up after the early deficit—he put C.J. Cole in the game after the under-8 for some of his first important work of the season. Cole, of course, promptly let D.J. Johnson cut behind him to catch a bounce pass for a dunk, and came out after just a minute. But the OU bench settled in and kept the Wildcats from extending their lead too much. Kameron McGusty entered the game and promptly dropped nine first-half points to pace the Sooners.
But McGusty didn’t get much help, and K-State was able to maintain the gap. OU went to the break down 43-27, having turned the ball over eight times and shooting just 38% from the floor.
Unsettling development: Christian James is about to endure another scoreless half. Soph. guard has 0 pts, 2 TOs and 2 fouls in 12 minutes.— John Walker (@jtw2213) January 7, 2017
Khadeem Lattin didn’t score at all during the first half, either.
Christian James finally knocked down a three-point jumper about a minute into the second half, and a quick 7-0 Sooners run narrowed the Wildcats lead to 43-34. Oklahoma extended its defense on the other end, forcing the Wildcats to run their halfcourt offense farther away from the basket, and K-State didn’t score in the half until Wesley Iwundu drew a foul at the 17:40 mark. He hit one shot, giving K-State a ten-point lead.
But Lattin hit his first shot of the game, a banked-in ten-footer, and the Sooners were hanging around. The OU deficit stayed right around ten points for the next several minutes, though a Kristian Doolittle steal and dunk cut the game to 7 points with 13 minutes to go.
McGusty just kept scoring. He wasn’t able to hit a three pointer to narrow the deficit to 4 on the next possession, but hit for five quick points to keep the Sooners hanging in. He had a team-high 16 points and brought the score to 56-50 with just under 10 minutes to go.
The Sooners got a lot of props for their gritty second-half play, taking what could have been a phoned-in second half and pressuring the Wildcats with better shot-making. The Sooners improved their shooting to 68.2% in the half. But K-State managed to answer every mini Sooners run—two minutes after OU got it to 6, K-State had it back to 11.
The officials did OU no favors in the contest. Khadeem Lattin was whistled for an iffy goaltend with just over two minutes to go. K-State took 23 free throws, Oklahoma just 10. And Jamuni McNeace, who was playing to rest (or maybe replace) Lattin late in the second half, fouled out after playing for just 13 minutes.
But without Woodard, even resilient play from the Sooners wasn’t enough to catch the ‘Cats.
McGusty finished with a breakout 20 points, accounting for most of the bench’s 29. OU turned the ball over 19 times, perhaps the biggest culprit in the loss, and battled Kansas State to a 26-26 draw in rebounds.
Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats with 16 points. All five K-State starters scored double figures.
The schedule will get no lighter. OU returns to Norman to play Kansas at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by Texas Tech and Iowa State at home with a game in Morgantown in between.