MANHATTAN, Kan. — Dominique Sutton had 16 points and pressured Washington State’s Klay Thompson into a frustrating night, leading Kansas State to an 86-69 rout of the Cougars Saturday night.
Kansas State (7-1) looked sharp coming off its worst game of the season, using a swarming defense to set up easy baskets on offense. Denis Clemente scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to prevent a comeback and Jacob Pullen added 21 for the Wildcats, who scored 39 points off Washington State’s 25 turnovers.
The Cougars (6-2) had no answer for Kansas State’s pressure, fumbling their way to an insurmountable 20-point hole in the first half. Thompson, the nation’s second-leading scorer, had 22 points, hitting all 11 of his free throws to get there.
Reggie Moore added 16 points for Washington State.
Despite winning six of their first seven games, the Wildcats have frustrated coach Frank Martin by playing great at times, disjointed others.
The past two games have pushed the mercurial coach to his boiling point.
Against IUPUI last Saturday, Martin stuck with his upperclassmen longer than he probably needed to in a 13-point win as a message to the younger players. It didn’t get any better against Division-II Fort Hays State on Tuesday, when the Wildcats fell behind by 10 early at home and had to claw out an 83-76 win.
Martin said he was going to challenge the manhood of a few players in practice after the Fort Hays State game, the simple message being: play my way or don’t play at all.
They apparently got it loud and clear.
Bouncing with energy from the opening tip, Kansas State overwhelmed Washington State with an in-your-face defense that had the Cougars bumbling the ball away and forcing up shots.
The Wildcats did their best work on Thompson, forcing him into seven turnovers in the first half and a 5-of-15 night from the floor.
Sutton led the way.
The athletic junior was in Thompson’s jersey — almost literally — from the start, forcing traveling calls on his first two touches. Thompson had another travel a few minutes later and spent most of the night muttering to himself.
He wasn’t the only Washington State player frustrated.
Coming off a loss to Gonzaga on Wednesday, the Cougars opened the game on a turnover-a-minute pace through the first 13 minutes and had 16 that led to 26 points for Kansas State by halftime. Washington State had trouble shooting, too, going 71/2 minutes without a field goal on the way to a 6-of-23 half.
Defense keyed Kansas State’s offense.
The Wildcats scored the game’s first seven points and didn’t let up, going up 16-4 on Martavious Irving’s consecutive 3-pointers from opposite corners. Kansas State kept hounding the Cougars into mistakes and went into halftime with a 46-29 lead that was never challenged.