Wildcats weather sloppy start, claim 61-56 victory over Colorado State

Stephen Hurt and the Wildcats picked up win No. 8 on the year. 

Gary Rohman

WICHITA, Kan. — As he replayed the shots in his mind, Kansas State guard Justin Edwards was still a little befuddled.

The Wildcats missed nine straight 3-point shots during one stretch of Saturday’s 61-56 victory over Colorado State.

"We were taking good 3s," Edwards said. "I mean, they were wide open. We have to knock them down.

"Fortunately, we played defense and kept them from making their 3s, too."

Edwards and Wesley Iwundu combined to score 19 second-half points to give Kansas State (8-2) just enough offense for the victory. Dean Wade scored all 13 of his points in the first half. Edwards finished with 12 points while Iwundu added 11.

Emmanuel Omogbo had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Colorado State (6-5). Prentiss Nixon scored 11 for the Rams, and Tiel Daniels had 10.

Colorado State played without senior guard, Gian Clavell, who averages 20.8 points. Clavell has an injured left hand.

It was one reason the Rams had an even longer streak of missed 3-point attempts, 12 in a 23-minute span.

"We lost our best player yesterday," Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said of Clavell. "He’s a leader, too. Every guy out there was playing a new role."

Clavell’s absence was most felt during the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Down just four at halftime, Colorado State scored only four points during those 10 minutes. There were airballs. There was a shot-clock violation. There was an air-balled 15-foot shot to create a shot-clock violation.

"We got into them," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. "Our hedges were good on ball screens. Our weakside help was good, too."

Colorado State made just one of its first 13 shots in the second half. It was surprising from a team that entered the game averaging 86.5 points.

"We missed shots we normally make," Eustachy said. "It could be the environment, could be the team we played. We just normally shoot it better than that."

Kansas State used the drought to build its lead. A methodical 10-1 run over nearly eight minutes gave the Wildcats a 43-30 lead, concluding with Carlbe Ervin’s three-point play with 9:52 remaining in the game.

But the Wildcats then went on a long dry spell of their own, not making a field goal for more than five minutes. Six free throws in that span helped the Rams cut the Kansas State lead to two, 48-46, on a Nixon 3-pointer with 4:15 remaining.

"I thought we got tentative," Weber said. "I kept telling them to be players and make plays."

The Wildcats responded with seven points in 62 seconds: a Stephen Hurt 3-pointer, Edwards’ running jumper and an Iwundu baseline drive.

That gave the Wildcats a 55-48 lead with 2:40 to play. Kansas State did not lead by less than four the rest of the way.

"I think Stephen’s 3 loosened us up," Edwards said. "Then we could just make plays."

The Rams did make some 3-point shots, four in a row in the first half to stay in the game. Two 3-pointers from Joe Di Ciman were followed by two 3-pointers by Nixon, the last one giving Colorado State a 12-11 lead with 11:19 remaining in the half.

But Wade, who had numerous fans from his hometown of St. John, Kansas, in attendance, scored nine of his 13 first-half points after that, helping the Wildcats to a 29-25 halftime lead.

"A lot of effort plays, really," Wade said. "I was just trying to be aggressive and got some shots to fall."

WOEFUL START

The bad news for Colorado State was the Rams did not score in the game’s first five minutes.

The good news was when Colorado State finally hit a shot, De Ciman’s 3-pointer, the Rams were only down 4-3.

The teams went a combined 1 of 13 to start the game. The score was 2-0 at the first media timeout.

TIP-INS

Colorado State: The Rams scored at least 90 points in five of their previous eight games. . The visitor has lost all 13 games in this series. . The Rams fell to 44-11 under Eustachy when hitting a better 3-point percentage than their opponent.

Kansas State: The Wildcats are now 7-2 in games played at Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena or Kansas City’s Sprint Center. . The Wildcats have had the same starting five in all 10 games.

UP NEXT

Colorado State hosts South Carolina Upstate on Monday.

Kansas State hosts North Dakota on Tuesday.