What Changed?

(image: si.com)

Before the first game this season between K-State and KU I made a list of keys that had to take place for the Wildcats to come out on top. Those obviously didn’t happen as KU cruised to an easy 20+ point victory and sent K-State home embarrassed. The most recent edition of the Sunflower Showdown saw a complete reversal of roles and in my opinion is one of the biggest two game reversals you will ever see in a rivalry. Continue reading to revisit those original keys and see how the first meeting of the teams from Kansas compares and contrasts to the second.

Key #1 Crowd Control: K-State needs to get off to a fast start.

Sunflower Showdown 1: It went from KU 7, KSU 0 after almost three minutes to KU 20, KSU 6 after 10 minutes and never got better. Kansas got out in front and never allowed K-State to play back into contention. Part of that was the challenge of playing in Allen Fieldhouse, most of it was the way KU played. K-State didn’t just start slow; they went frigid and remained that way all game long. Ku on the other hand shot 62% for the floor and 50% behind the arc.

Sunflower Showdown 2: After 5 minutes of even play, Kansas State took charge and never looked back. Part of that was the challenge of playing in the Octagon of Doom, most of it was the way K-State played. KU didn’t start slow as much as K-State (in particular Jacob Pullen) started hot. Not only where the Wildcat’s in can’t miss mode, but KU was never able to make a run that really put them back in the game. Anytime it got close, K-State stomped out any hope the Jayhawks could find.

Key #2 Work the Head: K-State has to get into the heads of the Kansas players. (Morris twins)

Sunflower Showdown 1: K-State was out of contention so quickly that this was impossible. If anything, KU was put at ease and was able to coast to victory laughing all the way. K-State allowed the Morris twins and Thomas Robinson to dominate with all three combining to produce 47 points and 27 rebounds.

Sunflower Showdown 2: K-State’s big men showed up and the frustration flowed. This time around there was no Robinson and the Morris bros totaled 16 points and 3 rebounds. Markieff Morris didn’t even score until 14 minutes remained in the game and had no rebounds at all. The biggest contribution either made was the flagrant foul against Pullen. It was obvious that the physicality of the game got into the noggins and allowed Kansas State to dominate inside.

Key #3 Lady Luck: For Kansas State to steal a win, the bounces need to go their way most of the night.

Sunflower Showdown 1: K-State unfortunately found itself playing KU on a day full of emotion. Both teams are normally amped for this rivalry as it is but KU had extra juice flowing from the unexpected death of Robinson’s mother. The crowd was full of support and fueled KU’s fire. On top of that, KU made everything and K-State was ice cold. So cold that even a dunk somehow defied the laws of gravity and came back out of the basket after going ¾ of the way through. Samuels thought it was good, Kelly thought it was good, heck… everyone watching the game thought it was good. If that doesn’t scream bad luck nothing does.

Sunflower Showdown 2: It was a night when everything went K-State’s direction. Besides the hot shooting from K-State as a whole, Pullen had a career night personally by putting up a total of 38 points. That was also a historical high against KU and…. drum roll… EVER in the recorded history of college basketball against the #1 ranked team. That isn’t all luck but everything has to click perfectly for something of that magnitude to take place.

It’s incredible the way these two games with the same two teams ended up so different. I’m not in shock about each team winning at their home court but if you analyzed Kansas State by the stats of each game without looking at names you wouldn’t believe it was the same people. Ditto for KU. KU is a good team this year and this loss, while a much bigger beat down than anyone expected, isn’t going to derail them. K-State on the other hand has been looking for something like this to solidify who they can be and I hope it marks the turning point of 2010-2011 season.

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