Kansas State didn’t have to wait long for a chance to bounce back from its first loss.
After being roughed up by the No. 1 team in the nation earlier this week, the fourth-ranked Wildcats return home to face Texas Southern on Friday night.
A matchup with top-ranked Duke on Tuesday appeared to be a great opportunity for Kansas State to prove that it is an elite team. The Wildcats, though, were hardly competitive during an 82-68 loss in the CBE Classic final in nearby Kansas City, Mo.
A day after shooting 46.2 percent from 3-point range in an 81-64 win over No. 22 Gonzaga, the Wildcats (4-1) went 3 for 17 from beyond the arc in their lowest-scoring game of the season. They committed 21 turnovers that turned into 25 Duke points.
“Our guys battled and fought hard,” coach Frank Martin said. “We are a very young team and we will use this as a great learning experience. … It did not work out but we’ll be better next time.”
Martin’s team gets a quick opportunity to do so during a time in the season when many schools are playing a light schedule due to the holidays.
Kansas State faces a Texas Southern squad that has lost its last 14 matchups with Top 25 opponents.
The Wildcats will be looking to take better care of the ball Friday. After committing 35 turnovers in the first three contests, they had 22 against Gonzaga before the 21 versus Duke.
Kansas State needs All-American guard Jacob Pullen to bounce back after he scored four points and shot 1 of 12 against the Blue Devils. The senior averaged 16.5 points on 46.3 percent shooting in the first four games.
Kansas State is 5-10 when Pullen scores five or fewer points.
“It’s early in the season,” said Pullen, the only senior starter for the Wildcats. “The ball wasn’t going in on shots I normally take.”
After missing the first three games because of unspecified disciplinary reasons and scoring three points in 15 minutes against Gonzaga, senior forward Curtis Kelly had 19 and six rebounds versus Duke.
It’s uncertain if Kelly will make his first start in this contest. He averaged 11.5 points and 6.2 boards while starting all 37 games in 2009-10.
Kansas State was hardly dominant in its most recent home contest, a 76-67 win over pesky Presbyterian on Nov. 18.
“We were just going through the motions,” Pullen said after that game.
The Wildcats may not be able to get away with a similar effort against Texas Southern (1-4), which won 66-60 at Oregon State on Sunday.
Kansas State leading scorer Lawrence Johnson-Danner, averaging 16.4 points, had a season-high 25. He scored 14 in the Tigers’ 75-52 loss at Oregon on Tuesday.
This is the first meeting between Kansas State and Texas Southern.