MANHATTAN — Perhaps the most telling evidence of Kansas State's offensive woes this season has taken place in the team video room.
"I've started showing not just makes, but good offensive possessions," coach Bruce Weber said Thursday. "Because you have good possessions (where) you don't make the shot, and that's important."
Clearly, Weber's point was to show his team the right way to do things and not just a highlight reel. But in a perfect world, he'd be able to show good execution resulting in baskets.
The Wildcats' offense has been far from perfect, a major culprit in an eight-game losing streak that has seen their record drop to 9-19 overall, 2-13 in the Big 12. And with No. 1-ranked Kansas (25-3, 14-1) visiting Bramlage Coliseum at 12:30 p.m. Saturday for the second 2020 edition of the Sunflower Showdown, things don't figure to get much easier.
The Jayhawks, besides leading the Big 12 in scoring, rank second in scoring defense.
K-State, on the other hand, is last in the conference in scoring with 64.3 points a game, ninth in field goal percentage (41.3%) and eighth in both 3-point shooting (31.9%) and free-throw accuracy (64.9%).
Senior guard Xavier Sneed, the Wildcats' leading scorer at 14 points per game, has been in a shooting slump of late, which has seen his field goal percentage drop to 37.1%. But there are other factors, as well.
"Sometimes we're making too many passes or missing the wide-open pass," he said. "Or we've had, like the other day (an 85-66 loss Tuesday at Baylor), too many turnovers at costly times.
"We get rid of some of those and get some good, quick, easy transition baskets, I feel like we have a great chance."
Senior forward Makol Mawien is averaging 7.5 points on 45% shooting, but has been turnover prone in the post with 1.9 a game.
"I wouldn't say we have a missing ingredient," he said. "Mostly inexperience, maybe, and guys not being too comfortable getting to their spots. It's not always the offense. There's a lot of different things that go into it."
The Wildcats did have to replace their top three scorers — Barry Brown, Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes — from last year's Big 12 co-champion squad, and the transition has not been smooth. Mawien said the easiest way to turn things around is through defense.
"We've got to stick to our system, our game plan, and shots will fall," he said. "We're a really defensive team, we like to focus on defense and a lot of our defensive effort creates those offensive opportunities.
"And we've got to keep doing that — get those easy buckets, easy layups in transition."
Weber and his staff have been searching for answers all season.
"Obviously when you don't make shots, that doesn't help," he said. "And you don't make free throws and layups. Those things are pretty obvious.
"But being able to make the next pass, and then somebody makes a play that creates a better shot for somebody else, I think that's the biggest thing."
A string of close losses early in the season also may have eroded the team's confidence and forced the players to press.
"Again, I don't think it's selfish," Weber said. "They just try to make plays — 'We want to win, I'm going to make a play.' Well, that's not how you win games.
"You drive and you kick. What does Baylor do? They just probe you, probe you, probe you until somebody gets a shots."
Having veteran guards in Brown and Stokes, and perhaps more importantly a mobile and versatile 6-foot-10 forward like Wade, also helps.
"Every year, you've got to figure what players you have and what they can do. Their strengths," Weber said. "There were so many things we ran with Dean that we can't run now.
"I think the biggest thing is we have not had a continuity on offense, a free-flowing basketball offense."