WICHITA — Offense had not been an issue for Kansas State.
Through the first nine games, K-State shot 49 percent from the field, hitting 39 percent from 3-point range, to average 76.9 points. That, along with good defensive play, allowed the Wildcats to mask their chronic deficiencies in regards to rebounding and bench production.
When the offense fell apart with a team-wide frigid shooting performance, it all went south for the Wildcats in a 61-54 loss to Tulsa on Saturday at Intrust Bank Arena.
K-State couldn’t solve the switching defenses thrown at it by the Golden Hurricane, primarily 3-2 and 2-3 zones. The Wildcats were 4 of 31 from 3-point range and shot 32 percent overall (18 of 56).
“I felt like they were open 3s,” Wildcat guard Kamau Stokes said. “For a team that’s been shooting so well, I felt like we couldn’t pass those open 3s up. We took some contested, some too deep, but they were still open and we have to hit them.
“When shots are falling, you’re playing good and energy is good. Today, shots weren’t falling and we should have found another way to win and we didn’t do that.”
The Wildcats (8-2) faced a similar issue against a zone defense employed by Oral Roberts. They were 8 of 20 on 3s in the first half, but the second half they adjusted the offense to get more mid-range jumpers (0 of 6 on 3s) and pulled out a 77-68 victory.
K-State did get some paint penetration the second half against Tulsa but didn’t convert.
“They (Hurricane) did change their zones and even went man a few possessions,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Even within a possession, they would start zone and deep in the shot clock they match-up and almost go man. We didn’t run the offense like we need to.
“Attacking zones, there’s a science to it. The misdirection passes, the inside touches, the inside-outside and all that stuff. We just tried to make plays that probably weren’t there.”
The season-low point total – 13 less than their previous low – magnified the 40-30 rebounding deficit and a mere two points off the bench provided by Amaad Wainright on a first-half steal and breakaway dunk. The Wildcats have been out-rebounded in seven of the past eight games.
“Rebounding is a big factor,” Weber said. “They only had eight offensive rebounds but we missed so many shots and that allowed them to dominate us on the boards.”
K-State had seven offensive rebounds on 38 missed shots to produce just five second-chance points.
“If you run good offense and get good ball movement, you know where the shots are coming and you can have people crash the offensive glass,” Weber said. “I thought the second half we didn’t run the offense as crisp as we’d like. The ball movement wasn’t as good and now you don’t have the rebound opportunities because you don’t know where it’s coming from.
“We have to find a way between Xavier (Sneed), Dean (Wade) and the big guys to get some easy putbacks that will help us get through some tough nights when we don’t shoot it well.”
The Wildcats can brush off the loss as one bad shooting night, but the other issues persist.
“I think they are correctable,” Weber said. “I know they’re going to come back this week and get better. We have two more (games) before conference and we have to get ready for both of those and move forward.”