Bad shooting was the least of Kansas State’s problems this time.
The Wildcats ran smack into Georgetown on Friday in the consolation bracket at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and the Hoyas slammed K-State 90-63.
The Hoyas dominated the post with 48 points in the paint, and shot 63 percent from the field in making easy work of a Wildcats’ team that can’t seem to find its offensive flow this season.
The Wildcats will play Long Beach State today at 10:30 a.m., in the seventh-place game, which can be seen online at ESPN3.com.
After a bad start in Thursday’s tournament-opener against Charlotte, the Wildcats could have used a better start to emotionally turn things around in the right direction. But that’s hardly what they got.
K-State head coach Bruce Weber said his team doesn’t look like it’s embracing its individual player roles yet. And it doesn’t look like it’s developed its identity yet.
“The biggest issue with this team… I think determination, understanding what we are, all those things are important,” Weber said. “We actually played better offensively and only got 63. We’re not shooting great — we shot less 3s, I thought we were a little more patient, got to the free-throw line a bit better, offensive rebounds — but at the same time we’ve got to play smarter.
“At the beginning it was very, very physical, and we didn’t deal with it very well. That’s where a lot of the turnovers came in and they got into transition. If you let them get into transition and they run their stuff, it puts you in a bind.”
Georgetown took a 10-0 lead before the Wildcats could answer with a 3-pointer form Nigel Johnson with 16:05 left in the first half. The Wildcats would draw as close as four points with 11:40 left in the half, but then the Hoyas took over.
K-State couldn’t answer 11 straight points by Georgetown, which marched ahead 27-14, and would extend its lead by as much as 19 points before settling on a 45-28 lead by halftime. From there, the Wildcats never had a chance to come back.
Weber said his team showed some fight early, but didn’t play well enough to stick with the Hoyas.
“We did compete and fight back to get it to 16-12, but boom, right away they get it back up to where it’s double digits,” he said. “You’re just fighting uphill the whole game. We have to play better, we don’t have much size and we’re going to have to do a better job of playing post defense.
“Because of their system, they’ve got you spread out so much, hopefully if we would have had a day or so prep we could’ve competed a little better, but we didn’t and got our butts spanked. Now you’ve got to deal with it and move forward.”
The Wildcats uncharacteristically turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, and the Hoyas made them pay for it. Georgetown scored 15 points off the turnovers in the first half, with only two coming in transition. The Hoyas simply set up a play, hit a player on a screen and made layups at the basket.
The Wildcats came as close as 14 points in the second half, trailing 49-35 with 16:37 left in the game. But soon after K-State started its comeback, Georgetown struck right back.
The Hoyas had their lead to 20 points just four minutes later, and they had the deficit up to 25 points with 8 minutes to play.
Georgetown was paced by D’Vaunt Smith-Rivera, who scored 25 points on 6-of-9 shooting with four 3-pointers. Jabril Trawick had 16 points, while Josh Smith had 13 and Markel Starks added 11. The Hoyas’ starting five was especially good from the field, making 24 of its 36 shots.
Georgetown coach John Thompson III said they knew they could have an advantage on the inside and they looked to exploit it.
“When Josh Smith is in the game, we have an advantage in the paint,” he said. “He’s someone that’s going to command attention. He’s an unselfish player, so when they double him, playing inside-out is something that we always want to do.”
The Wildcats got 18 points and six rebounds from Thomas Gipson off the bench, and 16 points and six rebounds from Marcus Foster. Will Spradling had 12 points.
It was the best performance for Gipson in the three games he’s played in so far. Gipson barely played in the first round loss to Charlotte, fouling out quickly.
Thompson said the performance from Gipson is what K-State should be most happy with.
“From their perspective, it’s good to see Thomas Gipson back on the court,” he said. “He’s a presence down there, he’s poised, he takes his time. You watch the few tapes of them when he wasn’t playing and look at last year, they’re a much different team. He is a very good player.”
Ironically, despite being dominated in the post, the Wildcats won the rebounding battle 32 to 28. The Wildcats pulled down 15 offensive rebounds, but shot 36 percent from the field creating far more opportunities to rebound on their side of the court.
Weber acknowledged that today’s game would be their last shot to get anything out of the Puerto Rico trip. And he said it would still show so a lot about the team.
“We’ll see what leadership is about and toughness and see if we can manage something out of the weekend,” he said.
Gipson said the last thing the team can afford to do now is let the season get away from them.
“We’ve just got to stick together,” he said. “Coach really harps on leadership. The older guys need to be better leaders for the younger guys, we’re kind of messing up on that. Right now we’re not a true team, we kind of play individually on the court.
“We still have time to bring it together before Big 12 play. We just have to use these losses as learning lessons for the future.”