It’s nice to finally be sitting above .500 in conference play. It’s double nice to send Nebraska packing to the Big 10 with a loss in what was the last ever Big 12 basketball match-up of these two teams. (Big 12 tournament not included) K-State did juuuussssttt enough to win this game and while it wasn’t pretty, it’s still better than losing. The winning streak continues but making it last past this Saturday and next Monday will be a huge order. If this time next week K-State is still on a winning streak, the NCAA tournament is a lock. Continue reading to see the good, bad, and ugly of the game from Lincoln.
Battle of the Bigs… Nebraska has size if nothing else. Diaz is a little bigger than CK and then there’s the man mountain from Brazil who is 9 foot tall and weighs 450 pounds. I was just glad he didn’t snack on JHR at halftime. Everyone knew the trenches were going to be where much of this game was decided and Kansas State’s bigs came out on top despite both Kelly and Samuels fouling out before it was all over. NU’s behemoths were held to just 9 points and 3 rebound combined. On top of that, they went 3-16 on their shots which all came within 5 feet of the hoop. That’s a major accomplishment and speaks volumes about the major work Kelly, JHR, and Samuels put in. Those 3 guys earned a spot in the good column.
Pullen… Return of “Fear the Beard”. I noticed the Pullen scruff is getting thicker and maybe that’s his secret. The thicker that Lincoln fuzz gets, the better Pullen plays. With the game being choppier than the waters of “Deadliest Catch”, it might have been hard to notice how big a night Pullen was having until the final couple of minutes. He finished with 27 points, 20 of which came in the second half on some big drives to the basket and free throws to seal the W. Pullen seems to be peaking at the right time and is trying his hardest to make us all forget about what happened in December and January.
Management… While it stretches the final 2 minutes into 30 minutes of real time and makes for some incredibly boring basketball, the chess match taking place between HC Frank Martin and HC Doc Sandler was something to behold. A lot of games will come down to the same decisions we saw but hardly any will play out as long as this one did. If you were paying attention you noticed the massive end of game subs that were shuffled in and out as well as the strategy employed in key situations. One great example was with K-State inbounding late in the game. Everyone knew Pullen was the target so Sadler instructed NU to triple team him. It’s normal to face up the guy with a player or even double team him, but throwing 60% of your floor to stop him is ultra risky. I don’t know if it was planned this way, but the three NU players formed a box around Pullen aided by the sideline and stuck him right in front of the inbounder which I believe was Spradling. That put four people within 2 feet of Spradling trying to see where to throw the ball and resulted in a pass to JHR who promptly proceeded to miss one of the free throws and extend the game. Throw in the horrible purposely missed free throws by NU, and the strategic fouls by both teams and you have one of the most interesting examples of how coaching in the final minutes can win or lose games.
Fouls… It was a physical game and I thought it was called well. So why is the officiating in the “bad” column? I take issue with the fifth fouls on both Kelly and Samuels. Both of them seemed like anticipation calls rather than honest fouls. In both cases, the officials assumed the player was going to foul and blew the whistle before anything deserving actually took place. I don’t ever think officiating wins or loses games but how horrible would it have been to go into overtime missing both Samuels and Kelly because of those whistles?
Frank the Tank… HCFM makes his first appearance in anything but the “good” column for his technical foul in the second half of the game. I don’t know what he said or if he honestly deserved to be slapped with a T, but it almost cost K-State dearly. Nebraska was having a terrible time scoring in the half court offense and was on the verge of going down by 6-8 points. Instead, they got four straight shots from the free throw line and tied it up. The momentum totally shifted for a bit and thankfully they continued their turnover craziness and allowed K-State to
Spradling 3’s… I don’t fault Spradling for shooting from outside the arc and missing. I don’t even fault him for continuing to shoot despite being cold. I fault him for the reason he was cold. Spradling is a pure player and while he isn’t the fastest or most gifted on the court, he does everything the right way. He uses his hustle to get in position, he runs off screens tight, and he thinks most of the time about game situation. Against Nu however, he allowed himself to get too rushed and never got set for any of his attempts. I don’t think he was forcing it, I think he just didn’t do a good job of setting his feet underneath him and shooting with form. I assume this is a one time deal and expect him to return to normal Spradling for Missouri.
Nothing goes here this time. There were plenty of candidates but nothing that stunk more than the rest.