KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nobody wants to say it, but you can tell Kansas State’s loss to Oklahoma State last Saturday left a sour taste in the mouths of the Wildcat players.
K-State will get another shot against the Cowboys tonight in the Big 12 Championship semifinals at the Sprint Center at 9.
The Wildcats lost in Stillwater, Okla., last Saturday 76-70, seemingly spoiling the K-State’s shot at winning a Big 12 regular-season title — until Kansas lost to Baylor later that night. Had the Cats won that game, they would have been the No. 1 seed this week and wouldn’t have to share anything with the rival Jayhawks.
Martavious Irving said, of course it’s a game K-State (26-6) wants back.
“We just lost to these guys, so why wouldn’t we want to play them?” he said Thursday. “They made plays and it was at home, and that always helps.”
K-State trailed by six points at halftime in Stillwater, but made a huge run to open the second half and appeared to be on its way to a win.
But Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash brought the Cowboys back into the game and took over in the final 8 minutes to give Oklahoma State (24-7) the win.
K-State forward Thomas Gipson said it all goes back to the Wildcats’ defensive performance.
“We really weren’t good on defense,” he said. “These last few practices we’ve really made an effort to get better on defense. I think it’s going be a big step up. We made a pretty good run, but they got easy layups and we let them back in the game.
“It was our fault and we took ownership, but we’re ready to play them again.”
The 11th-ranked Wildcats got limited play from injured players like Will Spradling and Jordan Henriquez in the contest, and had to turn to their bench to play a lot of minutes.
K-State was really hurt by Nash, though, who turned in one of his best performances of the season.
Shane Southwell said he takes responsibility for Nash’s performance. He’s eager to get the chance to guard him again.
“It will be really big for me — I like to play against the best players,” he said. “I don’t want to say I got killed, but he played well — I didn’t play well.”
Southwell said the Wildcats know what they lost by losing to Oklahoma State and what could be gained by winning on tonight.
“It would have been nice to win outright, and it’s the last team I remember losing to,” he said. “I want to play them.”