Tom Asbury knew about Kansas' affinity for second-half swoons. So did Asbury's Kansas State basketball players.
"We talked about them showing an inability to protect leads," Asbury said. "That's something you focus on. Unfortunately, we couldn't get over the hump."
Kansas State cut a 16-point deficit to five with 3:16 remaining Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse, but Kansas bucked its recent tendency to fade and won, 62-47.
"We didn't take care of business on the offensive end," Asbury said. "You can't win by shooting 31 percent."
Actually, K-State shot 31.1 percent. That's notable because the 'Cats shot 31.0 percent when they bowed to Kansas on Feb. 1 in Manhattan.
Stats from both games, in fact, are eerily similar.
In Bramlage Coliseum, Kansas won, 69-46. On that night, K-State made 18-58 shots, including 3 of 15 from three-point range. On Wednesday, the 'Cats hit 19 of 61 shots -- 3 of 16 from beyond the arc.
One big difference, though.
"In that first game I was disappointed in our effort," said senior guard Ayome May. "We played hard this time. That's all we can do."
Manny Dies, another KSU senior, also thought the 'Cats performed with more intensity on defense, but not on offense.
Why the offensive woes against Kansas?
"I think it's a lack of aggressiveness on our part," said Dies, who led the 'Cats with 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. "We wait to see what Kansas is doing instead of taking charge ourselves."
After the one-sided defeat earlier this month in Manhattan, Asbury issued an apology to K-State fans, students and faculty for his team's tepid tip-toeing performance.
No apology was needed Wednesday night.
"We competed hard. We played hard. We just didn't play very well," said Asbury, who is now 0-16 in his coaching career against the Jayhawks. "But give KU some credit. They played well. We didn't make shots or plays down the stretch and they did."
half. During that ultimately decisive stretch, the Jayhawks nailed 7 of 9 shots and outscored the 'Cats 16-2 to forge a 34-21 bulge at the break.
KU point guard Jeff Boschee scored 10 of those 16 points on a couple of three-pointers and a pair of deuces, and K-State counterpart Chris Griffin could only marvel at Boschee's shooting during that late first-half streak.
"He's a good shooter, a very good shooter," Griffin said. "I tried to get up on him, but he made the shots."
Echoed Asbury: "Boschee had an awfully good first half."
Kansas State has now lost 15 straight to Kansas. Every player on the KSU roster is 0-for against the Jayhawks, and the seniors, in particular, hope they'll meet the Jayhawks again in the Big 12 Tournament.
"I want as many shots as I can at them," said Dies, a native of Wichita. "I'd like two or three. Never beating them. That really hurts."
-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.