MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) _ So what's wrong with moral victories anyway?
Most coaches say they hate them, refuse to even to acknowledge they exist. If we don't win, then we fail, they rail.
But when a program's been down for as long as Kansas State, many good things can be mined from a hard-fought two-point overtime loss to one of the nation's better teams.
Take Kansas State's 91-89 setback Saturday to No. 6 Oklahoma, for example.
``You can get considerably better because of these kind of games,'' Wildcat coach Jim Wooldridge said.
``Or you can break.''
Fans sure got their money's worth, even if they did have to sit around for about 15 minutes in the second half while somebody tried to fix the shot clock. There were 14 lead changes in the first half alone. Tim Ellis, with one-tenth of a second left in regulation, canned a 3-pointer for an 82-82 tie that brought the crowd to its feet.
``We had opportunities to break,'' said Wooldridge, who is in his third year of trying to repair the harm done during the regime of his predecessor, Tom Asbury.
``But we held serve. We made some big free throws. We made a big shot at the end of regulation. That game could have been lost in both halves. Yet, we played with enough poise and enough courage and enough toughness to give ourselves an opportunity to win against a topflight team. I was pleased with that.''
Ebi Ere scored 25 points for Oklahoma (15-3, 6-1 Big 12). And he got an offensive rebound off his own missed free throw in another pivotal play.
Ere's free throw with 16.7 seconds left in overtime gave the Sooners an 89-87 lead. But when he missed the second free throw, teammate Jozsef Szendrei batted the ball into the backcourt and Ere wound up with the rebound.
``Jozsef throwing it back to me was huge,'' said Ere, who then was deliberately fouled and sank both free throws. ``That made it a four-point game instead of a three-point game.''
Kansas State's Frank Richards cut it to two when he drove the lane for a basket and was fouled. With 4.9 seconds left, Richards deliberately missed the free throw, but the Wildcats were unable to get the tying bucket down.
Matt Siebrandt, before fouling out early in overtime, scored 23 points for Kansas State (11-8, 2-4), which had a nine-game home winning streak snapped. Richards had 12, Jarrett Hart 18 and Pasco Pervis and Ellis each had 11.
``Adversity doesn't test your character as much as it reveals it,'' Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said.
When it went into overtime, the Sooners' experience in tight games probably was key. Sampson reminded his players of a similarly tight game against Texas which the Sooners had won.
``What is important is what we overcome,'' he said. ``That overtime period gave us a chance to test our toughness and that's exactly what we talked about in our huddle.''
Hollis Price had 22 points for Oklahoma before fouling out. Quannas White had 19 and Kevin Bookout had 16.