Cats focus on TCU after loss at Baylor

By Joel Jellison

On the white board in the Kansas State Basketball Practice Facility, the message was simple.

The only way to overcome hard luck, is with hard work.

K-State (17-8, 7-5 Big 12) has dealt with plenty of hard luck this season, especially on the road. But time after time, the Wildcats have found ways to persevere from tough stretches of road losses with a solid win at home.

On Wednesday, K-State will get that chance as TCU comes to town for an 8 p.m. game in Bramlage Coliseum.

With six games left this season, the Wildcats have likely already played themselves out of contention for the Big 12 title, but they still have a chance to finish strong and make the NCAA tournament field.

“I told them it’s how we finish,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “We had a slow start, a great middle and now its been up and down — people remember how you finish. I told them I don’t want everyone to just remember they beat Kansas. I want something else to talk about and remember for the season.”

The Wildcats have won all six games at home in league play, and lost five straight on the road. On Saturday against Baylor, it looked like K-State was going to end that streak.

K-State did everything right in the first half to the tune of a nine-point halftime lead, but the Bears charged back from the get-go in the second half, and answered a late run from K-State with a 10-0 run to tie the game up.

Even though the Wildcats did plenty to win the game, Baylor found its way back in, and made a clutch 3-pointer to force overtime. Two extra periods later, the Wildcats were headed back to Manhattan with a double-digit double overtime loss.

“We really just need to keep working hard on the little things that we didn’t do here and there,” K-State forward DJ Johnson said. “The little things that we haven’t been doing on the road is what’s cost us a few games. That’s what we need to get better at — free throws, boxing a guy out, an extra rebound, things of that nature. We’re really focusing on that.”

Despite the disappointing end against the Bears, and a feeling that Nino Williams admitted was getting old, the mood seemed light it the Wildcats practice on Monday.

Williams said they’re putting it behind them and focusing on TCU.

“We just know it’s a tough loss,” he said. “We could have made plays down the stretch to win. Last couple (road) games we’ve been right there and couldn’t finish it out.

“We’ve just got to learn from it, and next time we get into position we’ve got to try harder and understand the situation.”

The Wildcats will be facing a TCU (9-15, 0-12) team that is seeking its first Big 12 win this season and first league road win since they joined the conference prior to last season.

The Horned Frogs are led by junior point guard Kyan Anderson, who is scoring 16.6 points per game with 4.9 assists. Amric Fields is chipping in 13.5 points.

K-State senior Shane Southwell, who missed the last game with injury, was practicing without his boot on Monday, but Weber said on Saturday they intend to play him sparingly.

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