‘We’ll learn from it:’ WSU’s offensive woes remain in loss to Kansas State

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Mia Hennen/ The Sunflower

Sophomore Tyson Etienne guards the goal against KSU in Intrust Bank Arena.

In front of a packed INTRUST Bank Arena crowd, in-state rival Kansas State shocked Wichita State with a 65-59 upset victory on Sunday.

The Shockers fed off the crowd’s energy in the first half, building up a 12-point advantage but the offense struggled for much of the game after that. WSU finished the game shooting 35% from the field and 22% from downtown.

“I want to apologize to Shocker Nation and to the fans for coming up short tonight,” head coach Isaac Brown. “Keep believing in us.”

WSU’s offense found success early on feeding the ball inside to junior center Morris Udeze – who finished with a game-high 19 points, but WSU struggled to find Udeze in the second half and settled for outside jump shots.

The Shockers settled for 10 three-pointers in the final 20 minutes, only converting on one of them.

“I just felt that we didn’t do a good job on offense tonight, a lot of that was on me,” Brown said. “I should’ve got the ball inside more, we should’ve tried to execute more. I felt like tonight we just took tough shots and when you take tough shots, this is what happens. We’ll learn from it.”

Sophomore guard Tyson Etienne struggled offensively in the loss, going 4-20 from the field and finishing with 11 points. Etienne was one of many Shockers that struggled offensively in the loss, with only two Shockers finishing in double figures.

WSU’s offense hasn’t found their rhythm this season, but Sunday was the first time all season WSU failed to eclipse 60 points. WSU struggled to take care of the basketball, turning it over 14 times, with many coming in the fast break.

“I think our struggles are when we just turn it over like trying to force it,” Brown said. “It’s also when you don’t move the basketball but in this game we wanted to drive, make two people guard you and kick the ball. I felt that we drove sometimes and took on two guys and it cost us tonight.”

The Wildcats pulled off the upset victory without its best player, Nigel Pack, who was out due to a concussion. Markquis Nowell started in Pack’s place and scored a team-high 16 points, including a late triple to give KSU a three point lead with 1:35 left in the game.

“I called him in before the game and I just said ‘I need you to not make every play but I need you to lead, I need you to direct’,” KSU head coach Bruce Weber said. “He wants to make plays but I thought he started making the right pass, the right plays. ”

The loss snaps a three-game winning streak for WSU, which included a pair of road victories against Missouri and Oklahoma State over the past two weeks. In those resume building wins, the defense helped offset the struggling offense, which wasn’t the case on Sunday.

“Right now my mindset is just being positive but also looking ourselves in the mirror and asking ourselves ‘what can you do better to help this team win ball games’,” junior Dexter Dennis said. “We’re all positive guys, we all work hard, I think our heart’s in the right place. I love this team but we definitely have to get better and we’ve got a week to do that.”

The Shockers squandered a chance for its third consecutive victory against a Power-Five opponent. After spending much of last season on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the Shockers know how important each game in the non-conference slate is come March.

“You don’t get to get many quad-one wins and that probably would’ve been a quad-one win at home,” Brown said. “We definitely blew an opportunity but there’s going to be more games. We’ve got a lot of big games coming up.”

WSU will have a week off before taking on Norfolk State inside Charles Koch Arena next Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will also be broadcast on ESPN+.