Kansas State finally learned that it will take more than an effective Michael Beasley to have a successful season.
The 18th-ranked Wildcats look to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they meet Central Florida in the consolation bracket of the Old Spice Classic on Friday night.
Kansas State (3-1) rode the play of the nation’s leading scorer to a 3-0 start before an 87-77 loss to George Mason on Thursday. The loss wasn’t because of Beasley, who matched his season average with 30 points and also pulled down 10 rebounds.
The freshman forward, however, was limited to 25 minutes because of foul trouble and the inexperience of the Wildcats—with three first-year players in their starting lineup—showed. After Beasley sat out for nearly the final eight minutes of the first half, the Patriots steadily built a nine-point halftime lead and never looked back.
“That again is a learning process for us,” first-year Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “We were so dependent on Mike the first three games of the season that we have to learn that life goes on when he’s not in the game.”
Beasley scored 22 after halftime, but Kansas State never got closer than six points in the final 20 minutes. Freshman guard Jacob Pullen added 14 points for the Wildcats, who had 11 assists and 19 turnovers.
“They played like a senior team. They executed, they scored, they made tough shots. They made the shots we should have,” said Blake Young, the Wildcats’ lone senior starter. “You live and you learn. We didn’t play our best, but we’ve still got a lot of chances to prove that we’re good.”
Kansas State continued to struggle from the perimeter, making 2 of 16 3-pointers. The Wildcats are shooting just 24.0 percent on 3s this season.
Central Florida (2-1) fell into the consolation bracket with a 76-68 loss to No. 20 Villanova on Thursday. The Golden Knights fell to 1-17 all-time against ranked opponents.
Mike O’Donnell scored 24 points - one shy of his career high set on Nov. 15, 2006 against Rollins. He made 6 3-pointers to move into eighth place on Central Florida’s all-time list with 131.
The Golden Knights, however, were sloppy with 17 turnovers and their bench was outscored, 26-5.
“It’s a learning experience for us. … I’m very disappointed we didn’t play better,” Central Florida coach Kirk Speraw said.
Kansas State and Central Florida are meeting for the second time, with the Wildcats winning 71-59 on Jan. 6, 2003.
The winner will play Sunday against the winner of the consolation bracket game between Penn State and Rider.