Mon, 18 Jan 2021

Kansas State looks to avoid 0-3 in UMKC matchup

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2020, 06:55 GMT+10

Kansas State is saddled with an 0-2 start for the first time since the 2002-03 season.

With Missouri-Kansas City coming to Manhattan, Kan. on Monday night, the Wildcats will look to avoid their first 0-3 start since 1965-66.

UMKC (2-1) will be looking to rebound from its first setback of the season to Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. Neither of the Kangaroos' victories came against NCAA Division I opponents.

K-State opened the season with back-to-back double-digit losses home to Drake (80-70) and Colorado (76-58). The Wildcats were tied or led in the second half of both games before fading down the stretch.

"We made some progress, but tonight it was 20-some," head coach Bruce Weber said following the Colorado loss regarding his team giving 40 minutes of effort. "Now we've got to get to 25-30."

Weber's crew has struggled with depth this season because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. Many days, the Wildcats could only practice 4-on-4 because there weren't enough available players for 5-on-5.

Combined with the fact that there are nine new players on this year's team, finding cohesion has been difficult.

"I think the thing that happens is they try to go make plays on their own, instead of letting the game come," Weber said. "And part of that is practice. Being together, playing together, understanding when we need a shot, getting it to the right people at the right time. It's just going to be a matter of time, working together and working through some of these things."

The Wildcats have been led by senior Mike McGuirl, the lone player with more than one year's experience on the team. McGuirl is averaging 15.0 points per game. Freshman Nijel Pack is averaging 10.5 point per game.

UMKC has five players averaging in double-figures, led by Josiah Allick (19.0). The 'Roos are shooting 66 percent from the floor, including 35.1 percent from three-point range.

Their loss to SEMO was decided late when the Redhawks hit a 3-pointer to ice the game.

"We didn't finish plays, we fouled, we have to play better defensively," head coach Billy Donlon said. "We cannot give our opponent 35 attempts at the line.

"We will grow from it; we will get better. This team will be playing its best basketball in February."

--Field Level Media

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