What a night! What took place in the Octagon of Doom yesterday was absolutely unexpected and absolutely welcomed. I know that I am just as guilty as 95% of Wildcat fans in writing off the team and expecting a big loss but I will gladly admit that I was wrong. What took place in that game was a vision of what could have been this season. It also was a vision of what still might be. The regular season conference championship is long gone at this point but if Kansas State plays anywhere near that level in the remaining games they will be in the big dance and a team none will want to play. All the credit in the world is due Jacob Pullen as well. A day removed from playing horribly and rightfully deserving most of the blame for a loss, Pullen took a team on his shoulders and showed why he was the preseason Big 12 player of the year. It was the best game by a Kansas State player against KU, a career high in points, and easily his best game as a Wildcat. I’d say he is halfway to complete redemption with that performance and easily in the “good” column in this recap. Continue reading to see who else makes it and if anything goes in the “bad” or “ugly.”
Fear the Beard… How can you not after a game like that? All season long K-State fans have been waiting for anything resembling last year’s team and to have it arrive in a huge way AGIANST KU was as good as it gets. Pullen was spectacular with 38 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, a block, and most importantly, all the leadership a team needs. Every mistake that has plagued Pullen from game to game was absent. Instead of forcing, he allowed the game to come to him. Instead of trying to control the ball all the time, he spent his time running off screens. Instead of taking rushed shots, he was patient. Please, please, please, please stay for the rest of the season and allow Dillards Pullen to remain in a deep, dark grave.
Intensity… After the last Sunflower Showdown I felt like there wasn’t a player on the Kansas State roster who understood what it meant to be playing against KU. This game was entirely different. K-State came out looking like they would rather die than see Kansas leave Bramlage with a victory. It showed in their defense, in their attitude, and in their passion. It permeated through the entire coliseum and rattled the KU big men into bad decisions, bad fouls, and even a couple technicals. That was the intensity from last season that won games by itself and causes every team facing Kansas State to question if it’s possible to win.
JHR… It would be easy to put every aspect of K-State’s game in this category but JHR played a heck of a game against a team that has big men who normally push him out of being a factor. He must have eaten his Wheaties because he played like he had an extra 50 pounds behind him. If his 10 points had come from shooting mid-range stuff he wouldn’t necessarily deserve to be here. But he was a man who scored by forcing himself deeper into the paint and going toward the basket which is not an easy thing to do against KU. All the props to JHR for taking over down low.
Offensive sets… it’s extremely picky but there were still a good number of times that K-State didn’t do a good job of running a crisp and clean offense. I specifically remember one moment with no player in the paint and three of the guys standing within 5 feet of one another. This far into the season that should not be happening. There’s always something to improve on.
There’s nothing that belongs in this category unless I devote some time to KU! I don’t think the Jayhawks played all that bad either… sometimes you just run into a buzzsaw.