Kansas State, Oklahoma State hope to improve Big 12 struggles

NCAA Basketball

This was not the way it was supposed to be.

Oklahoma State entered the 2020-21 season with high expectations with the arrival of Cade Cunningham, 247 Sports’ top-ranked recruit in this year’s freshman class. Kansas State also brought in a recruiting class ranked by multiple outlets as one of the 25 best in the country.

But after four Big 12 games, the two clubs sit in a tie for eighth in the 10-team league with 1-3 conference records. They square off Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum with a chance to right the ship.

Oklahoma State is in a better position with a 7-3 overall record after going 6-0 in its first six nonconference games. Two of its three conference losses were against ranked teams, a 77-74 loss at No. 4 Texas and an 87-84 loss at home to No. 14 West Virginia after leading the Mountaineers by 19 in the second half. They also own an 82-77 overtime victory at No. 18 Texas Tech.

“Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said after the West Virginia loss. “Should have won the game. No two ways about it. Played well enough for 32 minutes and to be clearly the better team tonight. I hope the one thing our guys take away — you gotta finish. It’s a 40-minute game.”

Scoring has not been a problem for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are fourth in the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 78.0 points per game. Cunningham leads the conference with 19.1 points per game. Isaac Likekele is 20th at 12.0 points per game.

Kansas State did not start as well, losing four of their first give games, all at home. The Wildcats have lost both of their home conference games. They are 4-4 in nonconference action. They’re last in the conference in scoring (65.0 points per game) and seventh in scoring defense at 70.7 points per game.

They’ve played better lately, but they’ve still left coach Bruce Weber frustrated, especially regarding a pair of technical fouls because of taunting in the Wildcats’ 82-71 loss at Texas Tech on Tuesday.

“We got beat off the dribble more often than not, especially in the second half,” Weber said. “We also got out-toughed for a few rebounds. Obviously, (I’m) disappointed in the technicals. Our guys have to be more mature. They’re freshmen. We have talked about it in practice. Obviously, they made mistakes, and they learned from them. Now you can’t have it again. We have to be better if we’re going to make progress as a team.”

–Field Level Media

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