MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Having seen his team score 80 points four times this season, Bruce Weber realizes what the Kansas State can be offensively. But now he stares at back-to-back games in which the Wildcats scored less than 20 points the first half.
Kansas State (5-4) answered adversity and bounced back from 18 first-half points on Tuesday night, but Weber isn’t ready to hand out awards.
Nino Williams had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Marcus Foster had 13 points, and Kansas State escaped against Bradley 50-47 at Bramlage Coliseum.
“I don’t think we have one,” Weber said of the team’s identity crisis. “We’ve got to figure something out. Mentally, we all thought we’d better offensively since we had better offensive weapons. It has come to fruition in three or four games when we’ve scored pretty well and the others we haven’t.”
It was Williams’ second-career double-double, with the last coming against Baylor on March 8.
Auston Barnes scored a career-high 21 points to pace the Braves (3-6).
Foster kick-started a 20-10 run in the opening 9 minutes of the second half, providing a much-needed edge after scoring only two points off of free throws in the first half.
The sophomore knocked in three-straight 3-pointers, giving him 10 makes from behind the arc in the last two games.
The third make gave Kansas State a 38-27 lead with 12:40 remaining, which was also its largest lead of the game.
Barnes, who came in averaging 10.7 points per game, answered the Kansas State run by scoring five-straight points and tying the game at 39 apiece with 7:55 left.
Free-throw shooting gave the Wildcats the edge, finishing 21 of 30 for the game as well as 11 of 12 in the opening half.
Junior point guard Tramique Sutherland missed his ninth consecutive game for the Braves and head coach Geno Ford said it has significantly hampered his team offensively.
“Offensively, we’ve been challenged through the year,” Ford said. “We’re playing without two guards that would be getting the (key) minutes. We’re going to labor offensively at times, but Barnes was great. We just don’t have a ton of places to turn.”
After taking a 6-4 lead with 16:59 left in the first half, Kansas State went scoreless from the field until Nigel Johnson sank a 3-pointer just before halftime.
The Braves pestered Kansas State defensively, forcing 11 first-half turnovers and 16 for the game. They also shot 3 of 13 from the field (23 percent).
The Wildcats shot 3 of 13 from the field (23 percent) and turned the ball over 11 times in their second-straight game of less than 20 points in the first half.
Two 3-pointers from Barnes in the final 1:11 of the opening half gave the Braves a 19-18 edge at the break. The combined 37 points were the fewest points in a half in Bramlage history, beating a combined 42 points between Kansas State and Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Nov. 29, 2004.
Kansas State has only played four home games this season, which is the fewest in its first nine games since the 2006-07 season.
Bradley was playing without the services of leading scorer Warren Jones (14.6 points per game), who was out because of an undisclosed injury.
“Some of these guys are whipped puppies,” Weber said of his team’s fatigue since playing in the Maui Invitational. “It has been a long stretch. I’ve been through it before and I call it the ‘Hilo blues.'”
MAKING ‘NEGATIVE’ HISTORY
The Wildcats’ 12 field goals ties for the third fewest in school history and is the lowest for the program since they made 11 against Nebraska on Jan. 1, 2006
Bradley welcomes Eureka next Thursday.
Kansas State hosts Savannah State on Sunday.