LUBBOCK, Texas — Kansas State point guard Kamau Stokes will be out an “undetermined period of time” with a foot injury he sustained in the first half of Saturday’s game at Texas Tech, coach Bruce Weber announced Sunday.
“I’m incredibly disappointed for Kamau and his family,” Weber said. “He has worked extremely hard to become one of the top guards in the Big 12. I know that he will come back from this setback and become an even better player.”
Stokes was averaging 13.4 points, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals while leading the team in 3-point field goals with 33. The junior guard missed the final 12 games of his freshman season in 2015-16 with a knee injury.
With Stokes sidelined indefinitely, the Wildcats will turn to freshman Cartier Diarra to play point guard.
Stokes played only 15 minutes in the first half of the 74-58 loss at No. 18 Texas Tech. Diarra turned in a solid relief effort to help the Wildcats make a run early in the second half.
“Obviously, it wasn’t enough to get a ‘W,’ but I did a couple good things,” Diarra said. “I made mistakes. We came back and worked it down to seven and I made some freshman mistakes, but at that time I have to act like a vet. They made a run and it got out of hand so I have to learn from that and move on.”
Diarra, a redshirt freshman who sat out last season with a knee injury, played a season-high 30 minutes against the Red Raiders. He scored 11 points — two shy of his season high and his third double-figure game — with two assists and three turnovers.
“I thought he was good,” Weber said. “I took him out for a minute and said, ‘You’re doing great, calm down.’ This is all new for him. He pushed it, made some good decisions, got it to the paint. He doesn’t have the experience or some of the shooting ability Kam has, but he was solid for us.
“He’s going to have to give us some minutes if Kam is out for a while. The big thing is replacing 15 points a game. That’s not going to be easy, but we have to find other ways and that’s where the bench is going to be important.”
Stokes was taken to the locker room late in the first half and didn’t return.
“It was tough without Kamau,” said Barry Brown, who led the Wildcats with 24 points. “He’s a dynamite threat and one of our key guys. To not have him the second half was tough, but we have to keep playing.
“I think he handled it well,” Brown said of Diarra. “He’s a good player, and we all have faith in him.”
Diarra made 3 of 5 shots, going 2 of 3 from 3-point range and 3 of 4 at the free throw line.
“I can shoot the ball a bit,” he said. “I can spot up, drive it in and kick it out. I feel like I can make the simple plays and get it to where we have mismatches and advantages.”
Diarra played well early in the season then, according to Weber, hit a wall, but has shown signs of progress with the start of Big 12 play. He averages 4.3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 16.3 minutes a game with 23 assists and 19 turnovers.
“I feel like I was being a little too passive and not playing my game,” Diarra said. “As every game went on, I got more comfortable and started seeing things. Hopefully, the next game I’m better.”
The Wildcats (11-4, 1-2 Big 12) will need more from Diarra and others as they return home to face Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
“I was never scared,” Diarra said. “I don’t think anything out there is too much for me. It would be more conditioning and getting used to playing more minutes. I have to get in the gym, run and condition myself well.
“I feel like it was a learning experience. It was different. I was out there longer than I’ve ever been. At first I was looking for Kam to sub but I have to man-up and be ready and take advantage of my opportunities I get.”