Cats lose another one to KU, 86-60

By Joel Jellison

LAWRENCE — Same old, same old. Nothing new to see here. Move on.

For the sixth straight time, the No. 18 Kansas Jayhawks pounded No. 25 Kansas State on Saturday. And for the eighth straight time, they did it in Allen Fieldhouse.

(Kansas State point guard Jevon Thomas struggles to get past Kansas center Joel Embiid).

Just like it always seems to play out for Kansas at home in the Sunflower Showdown, the Jayhawks used a big run in the first half to put the Wildcats away, and coasted to an 86-60 win. The loss snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Wildcats.

This time around the Jayhawks (11-4, 2-0 Big 12) shot 65 percent and turned the ball over zero times in the first half, and extended on their 45-28 halftime lead to make it look easy.

Against a Wildcats (12-4, 2-1) team that had made its living on defense this season, the Jayhawks piled up the second most points scored against K-State and knocked down 8 of 18 3-point attempts.

“Kansas is very good,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “They have great depth, they’ve got so many weapons — we tried to take away something and you’ve got to give something, and they just made shots.

Kansas opened the game with a long jumper from 7-foot center Joel Embiid to strike first, and led 15-12 after Shane Southwell hit a jumper for the Wildcats with 11:22 to play in the first half. And that’s when it went south for K-State.

The Jayhawks turned in a 14-3 run before K-State could make its next field goal, a 3-pointer from Jevon Thomas that cut the damage down to a 31-18 deficit.

The Wildcats pulled with 12 points of the lead before the Jayhawks outscored them 12-7 the rest of the half. Kansas put the cherry on top of the first half with a 3-pointer from Wayne Selden Jr. with 2 seconds left, and led 45-28 at the break.

The numbers the Jayhawks posted in the first half read like something out of a video game set on easy difficulty, with 14 assists to no turnovers backed by a lofty 65 percent from the field.

“They executed their stuff to perfection,” Weber said. “Obviously when you’ve got no turnovers and 14 assists, that’s pretty good. You can’t spot somebody like that 20 points and expect to get back into it. When you shoot that well it helps, it helps all teams. It’s basketball, you’ve just got to learn and live, and they’re good, there’s no doubt.”

Junior forward Thomas Gipson said everything just seemed to roll for the Jayhawks during the last 10 minutes of the first half.

“I felt like we couldn’t make a stop,” he said. “We were playing hard in the beginning, we were going back and forth, but down the stretch they made a couple 3s and I feel like we let the crowd get to us and we just froze.”

The Wildcats would stifle the Jayhawks high-powered offensive attack somewhat in the second half, but Andrew Wiggins turned in a surgical half, scoring 17 of his game-high 22 points and knocking down three 3s to boot.

K-State’s best offensive weapon, meanwhile, came off the bench, where Nino Williams scored all 12 of his team-leading points in the second half.

The second half began in the most telling way possible, as Embiid took a wide-open 3 that swished through the net and set the pace for the final 20 minutes.

Wiggins knocked down a pair of 3s early in the second half as KU extended the lead out to 60-34. Wiggins slammed home a transition dunk with 12:32 left and then hit his third 3 of the half to put Kansas ahead 65-44 with 11:01 left.

From there, things continued to get worse for the Wildcats. Just when they started to build a small amount of momentum, Selden and Gipson collided on an inbound play that left the K-State forward doubled over in below-the-waist pain.

Then after a 3-pointer from Selden, Williams took an elbow from Embiid that got the Jayhawks’ freshman tossed from the game. Kansas responded to his absence with a 7-3 run led by post players.

The Wildcats had been winning games by beating teams on the boards, even by the slimmest margins. But Kansas won the rebounding battle 33-25, and Weber said it never felt that close.

“We got beat on the boards,” he said. “It seemed like every time when they did miss, they beat us to balls. They beat us on our play-hard chart, and that was, for me, the only disappointing thing. We didn’t play as hard as I would have liked to.”

Williams said they didn’t play as well as they had during the 10-game winning streak they entered on. He thought the pace was tough for a young Wildcats team still developing its offense and living and dying by its defense.

“I just think it was an offensive game and we’re not a really good offensive team yet,” he said. “We’re still working on it. We’re a good defensive team and we let offense dictate our defense.”

Past Williams’ 12 points, Gipson finished the game with 10, and Marcus Foster scored just seven points in the highly-touted matchup between he and Wiggins.

Weber said as soon as the game was over, he wrote on the locker room board “next game, big game,” making sure they focus on the next game.

Gipson said they have to move on before Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum.

“We just can’t worry about this loss,” he said. “We’ve just got to put it behind us and we’ve got to defend at home. We can’t worry about this game anymore, it’s over.”

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