The Cowboys absorbed body blows in what was their most difficult week yet in this college basketball season.
Two emotional losses to ranked teams, likely costing them their own Top 25 status. Both winnable games, except OSU instead found ways to lose late. The team's toughness — physical and mental — revealed lacking.
Now for the first time this season, the Cowboys find themselves with a losing streak, albeit a limited one at two games.
Also for the first time, they face a bit of adversity. And it needs to be limited — and answered, to regain all the good vibes that accompanied the nonconference schedule.
So, who's in?
Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, for sure. But who else? Bueller? Bueller?
Others are needed, as we saw Saturday, when the rest of the Cowboys were present, yet unaccounted for, leaving the burden of getting out of Manhattan, Kan., with a win almost solely to Smart and Brown.
“We've got to give them more help,” Ford said. “We've got to get some help scoring the basketball. We're putting too much on those two guys.
“They're basically the only two guys who can create their own shots. But we're going to have some other guys step up.”
OSU's big men — Philip Jurick, Kamari Murphy and Michael Cobbins — combined for eight points and 12 rebounds, no match for K-State's dominance inside, leading to a 39-29 bulge on the boards. Foul trouble played a part, with Jurick and Murphy limited in minutes and aggressiveness, but the Wildcats were whistled often, too, totaling 24 fouls to the Cowboys' 18.
“We've got to keep players in the game,” Brown said. “We had Kamari sitting on the bench. We had Mike and Phil rotating, because of foul trouble. We need those guys in the game.”
Le'Bryan Nash, who was not in foul trouble, had one of those games where he was barely visible. Nash made but 2-of-7 shots from the floor, totaling six points and three rebounds with two turnovers.
Cobbins, who played 27 minutes off the bench, scored just two points on 1-of-5 shooting, as his scoring touch remains inconsistent since returning from a month off due to a fractured toe. There's hope it'll come, and none too soon, with Murphy suddenly showing some freshman flaws.