The No. 7 Missouri men’s basketball team saw its undefeated start snap when it fell 75-59 at the hands of No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday afternoon inside Bramlage Coliseum, a place so often called “The Octagon of Doom.”
“As a coach, what you really hate is to get your butt kicked,” coach Frank Haith said after suffering his first loss with the program. “(The Wildcats) were tougher. They kicked our butt.”
Senior guard Marcus Denmon scored 17 points and junior point guard Michael Dixon had 16 to lead the Tigers. The duo combined for 9-for-24 shooting from the field and 4-of-13 behind the arc.
Key contributors to Missouri’s hot start to the season were stopped cold. The nation’s leader in field goal percentage, senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, attempted only one shot in the game and finished with two points after spending much of the contest on the bench in foul trouble. Senior guard Kim English scored eight on one 3-point make.
The Tigers (14-1, 1-1 Big 12 Conference) could not claw their way out of a woeful start to the game. The team’s opening four possessions resulted in three turnovers and the Wildcats (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) took full advantage of the momentum by jumping out to a 9-3 lead before the first official TV timeout. That lead would not be surrendered for the remainder of the game.
“I do not think we’re where we needed to be in an intensity standpoint,” Haith said. “We did not turn the ball over that much all year. I want to give K-State credit because they were up the line and did some great things defensively.”
Kansas State smothered Missouri on the defensive end and only allowed four points in the paint the first half. Entering the locker room, MU had as many field goals as KSU did blocks.
“Like coach said, give credit to Kansas State,” Denmon said. “They did some things well defensively. A lot of it we feel that it was stuff we did. We were not efficient with our cuts and getting open for the point guards. It is something that we are going to have to work on."
Ratliffe committed his third foul of the game at the start of the second half after being whistled for a technical, a sign of his team’s frustration with being down by 19.
English sparked a 7-0 run for the Tigers with free throws and a fast-break layup to bring the score to 52-39, the most respectable margin of the match since its opening minutes. But the Wildcats responded by scoring eight unanswered, capped by an alley-oop.
By the three-minute mark, Kansas State managed to pull ahead by 20 and brought in its reserves. The Tigers finished with 18 points inside, compared to 46 by the Wildcats, a team that appeared totally resurgent after suffering an embarrassing defeat from Kansas a few nights before.
“We watched (the Kansas game) tape, they saw themselves, they know what we practice every day, they saw the plays that we got beat on and they know that we were out of character there,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “We refocused and we were back in character today."