Kansas State Wildcats

K-State Basketball Struggling With Turnovers, Effort in Late-Season Slump

Let’s talk turnovers and effort. The K-State men’s basketball team lost to Oklahoma Tuesday night by 14 points in a game that was not close in the second half. This past Saturday, the Wildcats lost by eight points at Texas Tech. Oklahoma and Texas Tech are tied for last place in the Big 12. Losing to the two worst teams in the league in games that weren’t necessarily close by the end of regulation is not a good look for the Wildcats, who achieved a number five national ranking on January 23rd, just three weeks ago. Since that time, K-State has lost five of seven games. The only Big 12 game they have won in that period is an 82 to 61 victory over TCU on February 7th.

What has happened to the Wildcats? Turnovers have been the main issue, but Jerome Tang said that effort was the main problem in the loss against Oklahoma. He mentioned it at least six times during his postgame press conference after the game. Are turnovers and effort the main problems with this team? If so, can the coaching staff fix these issues?



Did you know that K-State point guard Markquis Nowell leads the Big 12 in turnovers with 93? And that small forward Keyontae Johnson is second in the Big 12 in turnovers with 83? Third place in the Big 12 in turnovers is Baylor’s Keyonte George with 76.

K-State’s best two players are also the worst turnover machines in the league, and there is little proof that this is getting better. Here are the turnover totals for the Wildcat team and each player in the last five games:


OU – 14

Texas Tech – 23

TCU – 15

Texas – 19

KU – 13

Markquis Nowell turnovers – 93 total turnovers on the season

OU – 4

Texas Tech – 7

TCU – 6

Texas – 6

KU – 5


Keyontae Johnson – 83 total turnovers on the season

OU – 3

Texas Tech – 5

TCU – 6

Texas – 1

KU – 2

The only win in that group of five games is TCU, and TCU turned the ball over 19 times in that game versus K-State’s 15.

Markquis Nowell ranks 7th in the country in turnovers, and Keyontae Johnson ranks 25th. Baylor’s Keyonte George, for comparison’s sake, ranks 60th.

After the 23-turnover debacle against Texas Tech, K-State made a concerted effort to limit turnovers against Oklahoma. It did improve, but the team still had 14 turnovers in the game. Nowell had his lowest total in the last five games, and Johnson had his lowest total in the last three games. But the Wildcats still lost the game by 14 points. So what was the main issue?



In Jerome Tang’s postgame press conference, he mentioned “effort” or “playing hard” at least six times. He answered almost every question the media asked by mentioning the team’s effort. Here is a sampling.

“And they kicked our butts, and they deserve all the credit in the world for that. And we did not play hard enough to deserve to win tonight.”

“We didn’t play hard enough.”

“We just didn’t play hard enough on the defensive end, to deserve to win tonight.”

“So far, effort hadn’t been an issue with our guys. Execution maybe at times. But effort hadn’t been an issue and tonight effort was an issue.”

“But anytime you’re going against so many really good coaches, and if you don’t play hard enough, you aren’t going to win. You can do a lot of good things and still lose. But if you don’t play hard, you never have a chance to win. And we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win today.”

Why the problem with effort? Bob Huggins, Frank Martin, and Bruce Weber’s teams all had problems with effort at times, so this is nothing unique to Jerome Tang, but it is coming at a bad time since the Wildcats are in a slump right now, losing five of their last seven games. They will likely drop out of the polls next week unless they can get a win against Iowa State on Saturday. Jerome Tang will earn his salary trying to get the turnover issue, and now the effort problem fixed. With only five games left in the regular season, he had better figure it out quickly, or this team may be one and done in both the conference tournament and NCAA postseason.

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