Shorthanded Wildcats fade late in 70-54 loss to Oklahoma State
K-State down to six scholarship players in loss to Cowboys
MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats fought gamely, but in the end they simply ran out of bodies.
The Wildcats, down to six scholarship players because of injuries and COVID-19, hung with Oklahoma State well into the second half Saturday before the Cowboys pulled away for a 70-54 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.
The latest additions to K-State's inactive list were starting point guard Nijel Pack, who experienced COVID-19 symptoms Thursday morning, and backup forward Seryee Lewis with contact tracing. Big men Kaosi Ezeagu, Montavious Murphy and Antonio Gordon already were sidelined.
"There's going to be adversity during the season and stuff," said junior point guard Rudi Williams, who made his first start in place of Pack and scored nine points while playing all 40 minutes. "There's going to be ups and downs and not everything is going to be smooth.
"We've just got to have guys step up and deal with it and move forward."
With four of their big men already out, center Davion Bradford got in early foul trouble against the Cowboys, exacerbating the situation.
"We had a tough challenge ahead of us today," K-State coach Bruce Weber said after the Wildcats dropped their third straight game to fall to 5-8 overall, 1-4 in the Big 12. "Obviously it makes it tough on you, and then the worst thing that could happen, Davion gets in foul trouble, and it was just a disaster.
"But our kids played hard. They played their hearts out.
The Wildcats trailed 33-24 at halftime, but battled back and closed within four points, 39-35, on Mike McGuirl's 3-pointer with 14:20 left. That's when Oklahoma State took control, starting with an 8-1 run to make it 55-41 on an Isaac Likekele layup at the 7:26 mark.
Likekele and Rondel Walker each scored 15 points to lead Oklahoma State (8-3, 2-3), with Likekele also grabbing nine rebounds. Kalib Boone added 14 points and Avery Anderson 11.
K-State held Cade Cunningham, the Cowboys' leading scorer at 19 points a game, to just five.
For K-State, McGuirl led the way with 15 points and DaJuan Gordon had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Selton Miguel, who drew the defensive assignment on Cunningham, also had seven assists.
Bradford played just four minutes in the first half and 12 overall. He scored all four of his points in the first two minutes of the second half before picking up his third personal with 17:41 left.
One bright spot for the Wildcats was sophomore walk-on forward Joe Petrakis, who after playing a total of three minutes in the first 12 games, logged 15 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds.
"That's a dream come true right there," Petrakis said. "I grew up a K-state fan, so being on the media (conference) right now is pretty crazy.
"It was awesome. I wish we would have won the game. We were shorthanded, but we really fought out there."
Oklahoma State scored the final eight points of the first half to lead by nine at the break.
K-State was up 21-20 on Miguel's driving layup with 4:58 left in the period, but the Wildcats managed just one field goal and a free throw the rest of the way. OSU went in front, 23-21, on an Anderson 3-pointer at the 4:15 mark.
After DaJuan Gordon scored K-State's last basket of the half to cut it to 25-24, Likekele started the final Cowboy surge with a 3-pointer at 2:13.
The Wildcats are at home again at 6 p.m. Wednesday against an Iowa State team they beat in their Big 12 opener last month.