Cats fall at home to Colorado, 72-62

Kansas State lacked a lot of Hart against Colorado Saturday night. <br><br> Pun very much intended. <br><br> Kansas State scored just one field goal over a 15-plus minute stretch that spanned two halves, as Colorado pulled away in the second half to beat the Wildcats 72-62 at Bramlage Coliseum.

"It's a step back in the wrong direction," senior Tim Ellis said. "I don't think we had much fight tonight."

Jarrett Hart, the senior guard who had been averaging 15 points per game over the last four weeks, limped his way through the game after sustaining an injury at Nebraska. He spent his time on the bench riding a stationary bicycle, managing just five points when he reached the floor.

"It's his hip," Kansas State coach Jim Wooldridge said. "We didn't know how productive he'd be. He hasn't practiced the last couple of days and we didn't know if he'd play at all. Not using that as an excuse, but we need him scoring the basketball to get to a number we can win with."

The win completes Colorado's season-sweep of the Wildcats, who lost to the Buffaloes on a buzzer-beater on Feb. 7 in Boulder. It also marks just the third loss in Kansas State's last 15 home games.

"We never got into any rhythm," Wooldridge said. "We didn't string together two or three possessions to cut into their lead in the second half."

And just like the first meeting, it was the same cast of characters who did the most damage for the Buffaloes. Michel Morandais, who scored 18 the first time, had 21 points to pace the Buffaloes. Three-point threat Blair Wilson, who had a career-high 26 in the first meeting, scored 15, and big man David Harrison added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

"We were just too focused on big Harrison and the other guys were knocking them down," said Kansas State forward Jeremiah Massey, who had a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds. "Practice (this week) was intense, we just didn't bring it the court. We didn't do what we needed to do to win the game."

The first half displayed the best -- and worst -- of Kansas State basketball. The Wildcats (12-11, 4-8) scored on 12 of their first 16 possessions before scoring on just 3 of their last 12 trips down floor.

"We stayed man-to-man," Colorado coach Ricardo Patton said. "Early in the year we were junking up the defense. We were a jack-of-all trades and a master of none."

That masterful defense created the dry-spell that allowed Colorado (15-8, 7-5) to inch ahead. After a back-and-forth first 12 minutes, in which the teams tied six different times, the Buffaloes managed to go on a 13-5 run to break a 25-25 tie. That run gave them their largest lead of the game at 38-30, and Kansas State was held without a field goal the final 8:41 of the first half.

"I really don't know what happened," Massey said. "Coach said we were too timid."

Kansas State actually out-shot Colorado in the first half, 45.8 percent to 40.0 percent, but the Buffaloes held a 22-12 rebound advantage, including 11 offensive boards. They also out-shot the Wildcats from 3-point range, connected on 6-of-12 attempts. Kansas State was just 1-of-5.

Colorado then used a 10-3 run out of halftime to open its biggest lead, 48-33, with 14:08 to go in the game. Kansas State managed to cut back to within 55-44 on four consecutive free throws from Massey, but Colorado matched the Wildcats basket for basket from there.

The Buffaloes dominated the boards, gathering in 40 rebounds in the game -- 20 of which were on the offensive glass. A recurring theme in the post-game news conference was the lopsided rebound margin.

"We couldn't rebound the basketball against them," Wooldridge said. "I thought rebounding was a gigantic problem.

Even Massey, who accounted for more than a third of the Cats' total rebounds, said it was difficult hitting the glass.

"If we could have gotten some rebounds we'd have won the game," he said.

All of that led to what Patton called his team's best performance of the season.

"I believe this was our best game," Patton said, "against a very, very good team who had some momentum. We had some guys make some big shots, but you expect guys like Michel and Blair to do that."

Marques Hayden had just two points for Kansas State -- missing all four of his field goals, while point guards Dez Willingham and Frank Richards combined for just eight points. Ellis, who had been on fire recently, added 16 points but had to battle foul trouble which limited his court time. He played just 26 minutes.

"It's very disappointing," Massey said. "I feel we could have beat that team. Now we have to sit here and wait for the next game with this loss on our shoulders."

BOX SCORE

Kansas State

Massey 6-8 11-14 24, Hayden 0-4 2-4 2, Willingham 0-3 0-0 0, Ellis 5-10 6-6 16, Hart 2-8 0-0 5, Martin 3-7 0-1 5, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Diarra 0-0 0-0 0, Richards 4-8 0-0 9, Williams 0-1 1-2 2

Colorado

Wilson 4-12 5-6 15, Harris 3-5 0-0 6, Harrison 5-12 3-7 13, Obazuaye 1-3 2-3 4, Morandais 5-14 9-10 21, Eddy 1-2 0-0 3, Senger 0-0 0-0 0, Copeland 0-1 1-2 1, Hall 3-6 0-1 9, McGee 0-0 0-0 0

Rebounds: KSU 31, CU 40 Assists: KSU 12, CU 14 Turnovers: KSU 10, CU 12 Steals: KSU 4, CU 4 FG%: KSU 40.8, CU 40.0 3-FG%: KSU 16.7, CU 36.4

GAME NOTES
* Kansas State's Marques Hayden and Colorado freshman Keith Smith played together at Putnam City High School, helping their team to the 2002 Oklahoma Class 6A championship.
* Eleven of the last 12 games between Kansas State and Colorado have come down to 10 points or less.
* The Wildcats have had six different leading scorers, seven leading rebounds and six assist leaders in 23 games this season.
* Kansas State has won 12 of its last 15 games at Bramlage Coliseum, including an 11-3 mark in 2003-04.
* The last time Kansas State met Colorado, a last-second basket by Jayson Obazuaye resurrected the Buffaloes after blowing a big second-half lead in Boulder. Colorado won 82-81.
* Tim Ellis is perhaps the hottest Wildcat in several years over the last five games, averaging 20.8 points and shooting 66.7 percent entering the Colroado game. His game-winner with 2.6 seconds left at Nebraska gave him 25 for the game, tying his career-high for the second time in four games.
* Over half of Jim Wooldridge's losses at Kansas State (34 of 62) have come by 10 points or less, including 23 in Big 12.
* Kansas State has used 10 different starting lineups this season, but have now used the same lineup for the last five games.


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