Bruce Weber doesn't particularly enjoy rehashing his Kansas State Wildcats' shortcomings game after game.
The fact that they've lost four of their last five and none by more than six points makes it all the more frustrating, because they continue to come close. And besides, he genuinely enjoys his team.
"I like our guys. They care. They keep competing," said Weber, whose Wildcats face Texas at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. "I believe in them."
Love them or hate them, the Wildcats (7-7, 0-2 Big 12) have continued to struggle with the game on the line. That was the case again last Tuesday, when they came back from a 10-point halftime deficit at home to tie TCU, only to fall 59-57 on a tip-in with 1.7 seconds left.
Before that, they opened Big 12 play by leading Oklahoma on the road for close to 34 minutes before faltering down the stretch in a 66-61 loss.
"We just can't keep breaking down in those positions," senior guard Xavier Sneed said after leading the Wildcats with 19 points and six rebounds against TCU. "We've just got to get back to watching film, getting these guys ready and focused in on what's coming ahead.
"Texas is coming up next (and) just getting a W is our big mindset right now. We're taking it game by game. We've just got to do a little bit better."
A loss at Texas would give the Wildcats their worst 15-game start in eight seasons under Weber, but he remains undeterred.
"We've just got to get a little smarter within the game and at the end of the game," he said. "If we do it within the game, it's going to make the end of the game a little easier."
Weber has looked for his veteran players to show the way after relying on Barry Brown to fill that role the previous three years. He's seen Sneed, who leads the team with 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, slowly emerge as the vocal leader.
"He cares. He's speaking up more (and) he's trying to be more productive," Weber said. "I think once in a while, he tries too hard and he tries to do a little too much, but I'd rather have that than the other way.
"He's given us a chance, and now we've got to have some other guys follow that and give us a chance to be successful."
Sneed said he doesn't feel any added pressure being the top dog.
"I just go out there and play my game," he said. "I don't worry about what outsiders say about me or anybody else thinks about me, just doing everything I can to help the team get a W."
That can be as simple as grabbing a loose ball.
"We never know," Sneed said. "It's a 50-50 ball for a chance. It can go either way.
"It can be a possession to help us win, so we've just got to be on our horse, being more active, being more competitive and just having the edge and the fight. Especially now, being .500 right now, we've got to get some wins. We've got to get some toughness to us."
Texas, despite a 10-4 overall record, is in a similar position as the Wildcats at 0-2 in the Big 12. The Longhorns lost 59-49 at Baylor last Saturday, then fell 72-62 at home to Oklahoma on Wednesday. Junior Matt Coleman leads a balanced, guard-oriented UT attack with 12.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. Courtney Ramey adds 11.1 points, Andrew Jones 10.9 and Jase Febres 10.2, while big man Jericho Sims contributes 9.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
For K-State, Cartier Diarra averages 12 points, 5.8 assists and 4.5 rebound, with Makol Mawien adding 8.0 points and 4.9 boards.
Much as he hates to see his team struggle, Weber continues to believe.
"As a coach, I've got to help them," he said. "That's my job. One, I have a strong faith, and I've always said I was a miracle. I was never a great players; it was a miracle to get to this position.
"I've got this opportunity, I've worked hard and I've done it because I think I have my heart and mind in the right place. That's with the kids and helping them be successful off the court and on the court and care about them later (in life). If you do the good things, good things happen."