STILLWATER, Okla. — That Kansas State zoned out last Saturday against Texas A&M's zone defense set off an alarm that brought back nightmares from the Wildcats' Tulsa debacle in December.
Only this time, K-State Bruce Weber isn't overly concerned.
"If you went back and watched the first four minutes of the second half, I don't think we could have been any more wide open," Weber said of the second-half collapse in College Station, Texas, where the Wildcats went from a four-point halftime advantage to 65-53 losers in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. "There were shots where they didn't even close out because they weren't within 10 feet of us and we just missed the shots."
In other words, Weber isn't about to panic over one bad shooting night, especially coming off a five-game winning streak in which the Wildcats positioned themselves in a tie with Baylor for the Big 12 lead.
K-State, 15-5 overall and 5-2 in the league, has had a week to stew about the loss and Weber even gave the players a couple of extra days off before focusing in on Saturday's 5 p.m. road game against Oklahoma State (9-11, 2-5) at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
But the question remains whether A&M's zone, which limited K-State to 23.5 percent shooting in the second half, served as a blueprint for derailing the Wildcats or simply was a speed bump over a long, hard season.
Senior guard Kamau Stokes, who was 2 of 9 from 3-point range — K-State went 7 for 31 as a team — wasn't ready to throw in the towel. Unlike the 47-46 loss at Tulsa, where the Wildcats looked lost for much of the game, he saw enough positives at A&M to shrug it off as an aberration.
"We watched film on it, and when you're not making shots, whether it's zone or man, it makes the game a lot more difficult," Stokes said. "We had great looks in the zone plenty of times, and we didn't convert those points.
"I felt like we weren't really as stagnant as we'd been (against) that zone. We had a lot of open looks, and we didn't make them, and that's what it came down to."
The danger against a zone, Weber said, is allowing a few missed shots to sow seeds of doubt.
"I think what happened after that, they got a little tense and you don't cut as hard, you didn't move (the ball), you didn't flash, you got a little stagnant and then probably didn't jump up and shoot it like you need to," he said. "I think it's just a combination of not making shots and then getting a little bit stagnant, and then it was all a snowball effect and went the wrong way."
Backup guard Cartier Diarra, who came off the bench to match a season high with 14 points at Texas A&M, said Thursday that the Wildcats were ready to put that game in the rearview mirror.
"That game's over with and luckily we're still in first place and we still have a chance to compete for a Big 12 title," he said. "We're now done with Texas A&M. No more Texas A&M. We're focused on Okie State."
"We dwelled on in (the A&M game) Monday and watched it and talked about it, but now it's on to Oklahoma State," he said. "Every game now is huge and it starts with Oklahoma State, and it's all we can really worry about. They had a huge win (last Saturday)."
Oklahoma State ended a three-game losing streak last Saturday in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge with a 74-70 victory over South Carolina.