Off to a Startling Start

11 Nov

The Wildcats did not experience the stereotypical season opener on Friday night. Against a Charleston Southern team that went 16-16 and 3-12 on the road last season, Kansas State trailed by 14 points at halftime before squeaking out a 72-67 win in the final minutes.

It took the home team quite a while to claw its way back from that deficit and eventually overtake the Buccaneers, but defense adjustments made the difference. Kansas State held Charleston Southern to 14.8% shooting in the second half.

“Once they get their defense set, that’s just tough to compete against,” said Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh. “They just said, ‘Come beat us one-on-one,’ and we weren’t able to do that.”

According to Kansas State coach Frank Martin, the Wildcats’ problems did not start on Friday.

On Wednesday that the Wildcats had not been practicing well. After this game, he said that in 27 years of coaching, he has never sat down during a practice – but he did so on Thursday and Friday of this week. Despite this, he has confidence that his players will figure out what they need to do.

Guards Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling took responsibility for not having the team prepared to play. They said there was no energy or intensity in practice, and Spradling said everything that happened in practice translated directly to Friday night.

As badly as the Wildcats played, however, the coach pointed out that wins in general are what will be significant at the end of the season, not that the season opener was a 5-point win over Charleston Southern.

“I’ll take ugly wins before any hard well-played loss,” Martin said. “We played Kansas here two years ago, nose to nose now, we played, we did everything, and we lost. That’s an awful feeling. Bad wins, we get to practice tomorrow, we get to play again on Monday.”

The Buccaneers gave them plenty to think about. They outrebounded Kansas State 48-39, made 19 of 23 free throws and turned the Wildcats over 12 times in the first half. They also went on a 19-2 run in the first half, much to the shock of just about everyone. To top it off, Charleston Southern did all that while amassing 18 fouls in the first half and 16 in the second.

The Wildcats were without the services of senior forward Jamar Samuels, who is two games through a three-game suspension for violating team rules, and James Watson, who is dealing with an academic issue and will not dress until that is resolved, Martin said.

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