Feels like home?

25 Feb

Saturday’s loss highlighted a myriad of issues for the Wildcats, but the framework seemed familiar. Playing at home, they fell behind, came back, had legitimate opportunities to make plays in the final minutes, but ultimately fell short.

For some reason, Kansas State (19-9, 8-8 Big 12) has been surprisingly vulnerable at Bramlage Coliseum this season. In home conference games, the Wildcats are just 4-4. The first devastating loss came against Baylor on Jan. 10, when the Bears eked out a 75-73 victory. On Jan. 28 Oklahoma took the first of two games from the Wildcats, 63-60. Kansas State gave Kansas a run for its money and came dangerously close to beating its rival before falling 59-53. Then, of course, came the loss to Iowa State,  65-61, and perhaps the most painful shortcoming yet.

After getting consecutive victories over Top 10 teams for the first time in the program’s history with road wins against No. 10 Baylor and No. 3 Missouri, Kansas State could not put away the Cyclones (21-8, 11-5 Big 12) even after overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit, taking a lead, falling behind again, and fighting back to tie the game with 1:42 to play.

Coach Frank Martin called the loss – and the habit of losing in Bramlage – “embarrassing” and attributed it to immaturity, which manifested itself Saturday in a lack of cohesion on offense and selfishness on defense.

“We were completely out of whack, but it all started with our defense. Guys just standing around, no one helped each other,” Martin said. “If somebody actually cut or screened in the first half, you guys help me out because I don’t remember it.”

The only Kansas State player made available for questions after the game was junior forward Jordan Henriquez, who had an absolutely monstrous game: 19 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks. He mentioned poor practices leading up to the game, but he also pinpointed a difference in mentality leading up to Saturday’s game.

“We’re a lot more enthusiastic coming in as the underdog,” Henriquez said. “At home, we tend to be a lot more comfortable. Either way, it’s something that has to change, and we have to change right away.”

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