KSU has letdown against Cyclones

By Cole Manbeck

For whatever reason, Bramlage Coliseum — nicknamed the Octagon of Doom, has turned into the Octagon of Gloom this season.

Kansas State lost to Iowa State 65-61 on Saturday afternoon, marking the fourth time the Wildcats have lost at home this season, tying for the most home defeats since 2005-06.

“It’s embarrassing,” K-State coach Frank Martin said.

“We’re a lot more enthusiastic coming in as the underdog,” Jordan Henriquez said. “At home we tend to be a lot more comfortable. It has to change right away.”

K-State, on the heels of beating two top-10 teams on the road, apparently didn’t handle prosperity very well. Because of that, the Wildcats didn’t necessarily lose this game on Saturday, but rather during the two days leading up to it, Martin said.

“What cost us the game was immaturity and nonsense the last two days,”  he said.  “We’d be here until tomorrow morning if I started explaining to you everything that’s been bad here for the last two days.”

Still, the Wildcats almost overcame all of it. After falling behind by as many as 14 in the first half, K-State executed a 20-1 run that started at the end of the opening period and carried over to the second half. Iowa State didn’t hit a field goal in the first 7:16 of the second half and missed its first 10 shots as it saw its 37-27 halftime lead turn into a 44-38 deficit.     

Then everything came crumbling down for the Wildcats. The Cyclones answered with a 19-6 run to take a 57-50 advantage with 5:32 remaining.

“ Saw a little snapshot of how we played the last three weeks early in the second half,” Martin said. “And as soon as we took a lead we went back to celebratory mode.”

K-State still had a run in it, tying the game at 61-all on an Angel Rodriguez free throw with 1:42 left.

But Scott Christopherson, who scored 29 points on 10-of-13 shooting, hit the Wildcats with a dagger on the Cyclones’ ensuing possession. The fifth-year senior called for a ball-screen at the top of the key and Rodriguez, who was guarding Christopherson, went under the screen. The guard made K-State pay, burying what proved to be the game-winning 3 from the top of the key to give Iowa State a 64-61 lead.

Martin said it wasn’t a defensive mistake by Rodriguez to go under the screen.

“The screen was too deep on the floor,” he said. “Our ball-screen defense is called by the guy defending the screener, not the ball and Jordan (Henriquez) made a call and Angel did what Jordan asked him to do. Give Christopherson credit, but that’s not what cost us the game.”

Christopherson scored 18 first-half points on 6-of-6 shooting and made all five of his 3-point attempts in 36 minutes of action.

K-State used five different guys to try and stop Christopherson. Rodney McGruder, Rodriguez, Shane Southwell and Martavious Irving were solid, but Will Spradling struggled to stop the senior guard.

“We did a pretty good job on him other than a matchup,” Martin said. “You go watch the film, I’m not telling you who and what, but we did a pretty good job on him unless there was a certain guy guarding him. Then it was all systems off and Christopherson is pretty good.

“When Jordan was not in the game, he’d get that ball in the paint and just overpower our guards and just score over the top. When Jordan was in there he couldn’t do that so he had to settle for more perimeter stuff. But he’s a real good player. He’s been playing that way for three weeks, it’s not like he came out of nowhere today. He was number one on our scouting report going into this game.

The Wildcats couldn’t stop the 3-point shot all day, something they’ve been solid at all season. In the previous matchup on Jan. 31, Iowa State attempted just 11 3-point attempts. On Saturday, the Big 12’s top 3-point shooting team in both 3s made per game and 3-point field-goal percentage connected on 11-of-28 (39.3 percent) from beyond the arc. And it came against a K-State team that had forced its previous three opponents into 16-of-52 (30.7 percent) accuracy from long range in its previous three games.

“We weren’t any good,”  Martin said. “Our defense today was — I don t know — must be the one they spoke about themselves in their apartments that they wanted to play. It wasn’t the one we as coaches tried to implement or talked about using here today. It’s a shame — a shame that this deep in the season we still have the immaturity that we have.”

The loss overshadowed the best game of Jordan Henriquez‘s K-State career. Henriquez scored a career-high 19 points , grabbed 12 rebounds and protected the paint all day long with seven blocks.

“He’s been great. He and Brian Rohleder are the two guys who actually broke a sweat in practice yesterday,“ Martin said.  I think there’s a reason that he s as engaged as he is right now. Everybody else, I guess they thought that there was some party today in Bramlage to celebrate us beating Missouri. I think that’s what 98 percent of our team thought was going on today.”

And the result was a deflating, gloomy home loss.

“I’m very disappointed in our team,”  Martin said.

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