A late-game collapse cost Kansas State on Wednesday at Oklahoma. The Wildcats turned the ball over five straight times in the closing minutes and missed their final four shots of the game, as the Sooners rallied for the 68-62 win.
It’s an outcome K-State coach Deb Patterson wants her team to learn from, but not dwell on.
K-State doesn’t have the time to dwell on much that happened Wednesday with the Texas Longhorns on their way to Manhattan for a key matchup Saturday night at Bramlage Coliseum — beginning at 6 and televised on FSN.
“I want us to learn from that, but I don’t want us to just harp on that because we scored the ball well, we competed well — had some individuals that really weren’t posting great numbers — and yet, we were right there in that game,” Patterson said Thursday. “To me, it’s more encouraging, but it hurt so bad to lose that game.”
The Wildcats find themselves in a fight for fourth place in the Big 12 going down the final stretch with a lot to play for — including seeding for the league tournament next month in Kansas City and an NCAA tournament bid to follow.
“There’s so much still on the line for our team and I want them to see the big picture, the awesome opportunity that’s out there for us, if we can just stay the course and look at that next 40 minutes and find a way to be better than the other guy,” Patterson said.
Getting that full 40 minutes is the goal. After all, the Wildcats (16-9, 7-6 Big 12) had the first 35 minutes in the bag against the Sooners — leading by as many as nine points in the second half on the road where K-State hasn’t won at since 2003.
Yet, Patterson can take some positives from the contest, starting with the perimeter game that finally got going, as Brittany Chambers and Tasha Dickey combined to score 32 points, including seven 3-pointers.
“I think we improved offensively and I think when we get our perimeter playing consistently for 40 minutes, good things will continue to happen,” she said. “And we want to keep getting better through this February stretch. I think we did in a lot of ways against OU, but we just didn’t finish well.”
On Saturday, K-State welcomes a Longhorns team it already defeated 64-55 on Feb. 1 in Austin, Texas. The Wildcats caught the Longhorns on the second game of a four-game skid when they first met. But since, Texas (15-10, 5-8) has won two straight with wins over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
“They’re playing great basketball now and I think they found their step a little bit,” Patterson said. “We know this is going to be an unbelievably challenging matchup for us.”
Patterson hopes her team responds well to being at home, as K-State takes part in the annual “Play4Kay” game to bring awareness to breast cancer. Though K-State is 4-3 in Big 12 road games this season, the Cats are just 3-3 at home in the league — winning their last home game against Kansas on Sunday.
“I’m way happy we’re at home and I hope we take advantage of the home crowd,” she said. “But it’s been a little shaky at home and we really haven’t played our best basketball here. We gutted it out and found a way to beat KU and that’s what we have to do when we step on the floor with Texas.
“This is go-time right here. You’re down in the nitty-gritty and you have to just grind it out and find ways to get wins — somebody’s going to get them and somebody’s not. We went on the road and almost got one. Now, we’re home and we have to get one here. This is one we have to get.”
K-State will participate in the national breast cancer awareness initiative for the fourth straight year on Saturday when the Wildcats wear their pink uniforms against the Longhorns.
The initiative started as “Think Pink” and then was called Pink Zone” the last two years. This year, it’s “Play4Kay,” to honor former North Carolina State coach Kay Yow, who lost her long battle to breast cancer last year.
The first 4,000 fans at Bramlage will receive a free pink T-shirt and breast cancer survivors will be honored prior to the end of the first half Saturday.
“I’m so proud of the legacy of Kay Yow — one of the most unbelievable people in men’s or women’s basketball,” Patterson said. “To think about now, how this ‘Pink Zone’ has elevated to such a national stature — it is so big now and it’s a format for us to bring attention to the fight and the battle against cancer, particular breast cancer.
“We’re proud to be a part of it and we think it’s an enormously important initiative and we know women’s basketball has a window to the athletic world, more so than any other women’s sport, so its important we come together and bring this issue to the forefront.”
TEXAS (15-10, 5-8)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Yvonne Anderson Sr. 5-7 11.5 3.3
G — Chassidy Fussell So. 5-10 16.8 4.3
G — A. Fontenette Sr. 5-8 11.6 4.4
F — Nneka Enemkpali Fr. 6-1 3.8 4.9
F — Anne Marie Hartung So. 6-3 5.3 4.6
KANSAS STATE (16-8, 7-5)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Brittany Chambers Jr. 5-8 15.3 6.0
G — Tasha Dickey Sr. 5-10 9.9 4.2
G — Mariah White Jr. 5-8 5.7 4.3
F — Jalana Childs Sr. 6-2 13.6 5.0
F — Branshea Brown Sr. 6-2 4.9 5.0