NORMAN, Okla. – On Friday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum, Kansas State Coach Frank Martin had five of his players running bleachers while their teammates practiced.
Martin said it was easy to see why during the 18th-ranked Wildcats' 82-73 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday.
"This either gets your attention and now you get stuff right or you pack your bags and go home," Martin said. "It makes you soul search. It's reality."
On Tuesday, Kansas State's reality was a 75-73 loss to No. 4 Baylor at home. Four days later, the Wildcats (12-4, 1-3 Big 12) found themselves down by as many as 18 points to the unranked Sooners.
Under new coach Lon Kruger, a two-time All-Big Eight guard for the Wildcats as a player, the focus all season for Oklahoma has been getting better each day. Martin said his team needs to adopt the same philosophy.
Oklahoma (11-5, 1-3) led the entire game but had to fend off several Kansas State runs while losing the
rebounding battle 44-24.
Rodney McGruder led Kansas State with 19 points.
Andrew Fitzgerald led Oklahoma with 21 points, while Romero Osby and Steven Pledger scored 18 and Cameron Clark had 10. It was Oklahoma's first Big 12 Conference win after an 0-3 start.
"We needed this as a team," Martin said. "You lose to Baylor the way we did, it hurts your feelings. We needed a game like this. This will make us better."
Trailing by nine points at halftime, Kansas State fell behind by as many as 18 in the second half.
The Wildcats cut the deficit to six points with 57 seconds remaining but were forced to foul late and the Sooners converted four of six free throws over the final 1:21.
"Every time we would get it back to a close game we just needed that one stop or that one rebound and we wouldn't get it," Kansas State's Will Spradling said. "We were making silly mistakes in the beginning and at the end we weren't getting stops when we needed them."
Oklahoma opened with a 7-0 run, prompting Kansas State Coach Frank Martin to call a timeout just 1:42 into the game. The Sooners led by as many as 12 points in the first half as Kansas State struggled to find offensive consistency while shooting 33 percent.
Leading by 18 points with 8:27 remaining in the second half it looked like Oklahoma would run away but two 3-pointers from Spradling and a basket from Nino Williams as he was falling down cut the deficit to eight.
"We didn't come out with any energy. We came out flat," said Spradling, who finished with 11 points. "If you're playing in anybody else's gym and come out flat you're going to get punches. When we got punched we didn't hit them back."
The conference's best rebounding team, Oklahoma was outrebounded for only the third time this season.