Kansas State entered Wednesday night's game against No. 23 Baylor still searching for its first Big 12 Conference victory. After suffering through an 83-65 blowout loss at the hands of LaceDarius Dunn and the Bears, Frank Martin and the Wildcats are still seeking that elusive victory and possibly something else, an identity.
"It takes maximum effort to beat the good teams," Martin said afterwards. "Right now we're just kind of searching in our souls to find ourselves. We need something good to happen"
Unfortunately for Martin's Wildcats, it was Baylor's Dunn making good things happen Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum. The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard scorched K-State for 33 points off the bench while connecting on 9-of-12 attempts from behind the 3-point arc.
"I was really surprised. They kept playing the same defense," Dunn said. "I have to give a lot of credit to our guards. They found the open shots, and it was my responsibility to knock down the shots."
"He's going to shoot every possession if he can," Baylor coach Scott Drew added. "He had some good looks tonight because of those guards."
The Bears (15-3, 3-1) led by as many as 19 in the second half and were never truly threatened. A 6-0 Wildcat spurt briefly cut the Baylor lead to 53-40 with just over 12 minutes left to play, but the Bears had an answer for any mini-run K-State (11-7, 0-4) could put together.
A Jacob Pullen 3-pointer cut the deficit to 12 with 4:31 to play, but Dunn's ninth 3-pointer of the night immediately stretched the margin back to 15 on the ensuing possession.
"We actually came out with a little more fire and energy tonight," Wildcat forward Darren Kent said. "They just went on another run we couldn't come back from. We tried to make some good runs in the second half, but they would just find the answer every time."
Despite coming out with more energy, which both Kent and Martin alluded to after the loss, K-State started just 1-9 from the floor, a big reason why the Wildcats found themselves in a quick 10-2 hole just more than seven minutes into the contest. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Denis Clemente and Kent helped slice Baylor's lead in half, but the Bears would quickly regain control and eventually stretch their lead out to 17 on a Dunn 3-pointer with 3:21 remaining in the first half.
Dunn gave the Wildcats fits throughout the first half, connecting on 4-of-5 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes to help give the Bears a 36-23 halftime lead. K-State's shooting actually improved over the last part of the half, as the Wildcats made 6 of their last 9 shots before heading into the locker room trailing by 13.
Dunn was one of four Baylor players to crack double digits. Quincy Acy finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, Kevin Rogers had a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards and guard Curtis Jerrells turned in an 18-point, 5-assist effort.
Clemente led K-State with 17 points, while Kent finished with 11 to go along with 12 from Dominique Sutton. Luis Colon grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with 8 points.
The Wildcats will look to avoid a 0-5 conference start when they visit Colorado on Saturday, and the Wildcats promised not to roll into Boulder feeling sorry for themselves.
"It's always tough to lose four games in a row," Kent said. "Most of these guys were on the team with us last year that had a losing streak like this one towards the end of the season, and we dug out of it last year. We know we have the talent; we come to practice every day and we work as hard as we can. It's just about going out every game and executing and getting it done."
Martin refused to call this weekend's game a must-win, saying only an elimination game at the end of the season should earn such a qualification, but did re-emphasize that his team was looking for leadership as it prepares to hit the road again.
"We're scarred as a team right now. That's where I come into play," Martin said. "If at any second I'm scarred or hang my head, those kinds in the locker room don't have a chance."
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