Junior guard Blake Young stole the ball from an Eagle guard and ran down the court to try and start a fast break. He missed a layup, and none of the other Wildcats were hustling down court to try and get the rebound.
Senior guards Cartier Martin and Lance Harris, junior forward David Hoskins and freshman center Jason Bennett were all pulled from the game after showing a lack of hustle.
“(Huggins) took us out because Blake stole the ball, and the other four guys didn’t get across halfcourt to even try and help him or get a rebound after he shot the ball,” Harris said. “Coach said we were being lazy at the time, which we were.”
The players went out with the score tied at five, and Coppin State took advantage of the weaker lineup.
The Eagles (1-4) went on a 16-3 run to take a 13-point lead. K-State struggled to find offensive rhythm, but still managed to cut into the lead for the remainder of the opening half. The Wildcats ended the half on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 30, but Huggins said he felt his team didn’t come ready to play.
“I worked them pretty hard for two days,” he said. “They may not have had legs. We probably didn’t have as fresh of legs as we needed to have.”
He still felt like the starters should have at least made an effort to show hustle early in the game.
“We didn’t run down the floor,” Huggins said. “Blake stole it, went down and missed the shot, and we had not one of the other guys on that side of the floor. We’re going to play hard. We may miss shots and do any of that other stuff, but we’re going to play hard.”
Harris heard the message loud and clear. He went back into the game and performed to a level that even Huggins could appreciate.
He went 10-for-15 from the field and 5-for-9 from three-point land to tie his career-high of 26 points and lead all scorers.
“Lance was giving us a decent effort everyday. I think in the last couple of days Lance has probably had better practices than anybody has,” Huggins said.
K-State (4-1) tried to pull away in the early stages of the second half, but Coppin State kept the score close for most of the way.
Martin was taken in and out numerous times, but the last time he was taken out was at the 7:33 mark in the second half. He said a few words to Huggins on the sideline, and appeared to be on his way to the bench, but 10 seconds later, he was called back into the game with the score tied at 46.
He became instant offense, making his next three three-point attempts. He scored 11 of his 13 points in the final 6:48 of the game to lead K-State to the victory. Martin played 18 minutes in the game, which was the least amount of playing time for any starter.
“That’s just the way he coaches,” Martin said of Huggins’ decision to bench him. “It’s a little frustrating not being out there at times, but you can’t afford to make mistakes if you want to be a good team. It’s not something I’m used to, but in order for us to be a good team, we have to learn how to make fewer mistakes.”
Senior guard Akeem Wright came off the bench to score 10 points and grab six rebounds. Bennett only scored three points, but he had nine rebounds and three blocks.
Hoskins had 11 points and four rebounds in 25 minutes of action. Young played more minutes than any of his teammates (35), but he went 0-of-8 from the field and only scored two points. He did contribute in other ways, recording four defensive rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Tywain McKee led the Eagles with 19 points on 7-for-24 shooting, including 3-for-7 from downtown. He also had seven assists and five reboun