Kansas State keeps on rolling and seems to be catching fire at just the right time. Solid offense and great defense won the day. This was a big win against a team who will be in the tournament barring a major collapse. At this point, I feel like K-State has played themselves back into the tournament without question. Continue reading to see why this game earned record “good” column spots for K-State and what put ESPN in the “ugly.”
Irving… Martavious Irving gets an appearance in this column for his solid contributions in the game against Mizzou. He only finished with 7 points but the way he took the ball inside and split Missouri’s defense opened things up for K-State and had a good impact on the game. A couple of those came at the end of the shot clock which disheartens a defense that plays well for 30 seconds only to see an easy basket drop.
Defense… Kansas State played great defense in the half court set all day long. It frustrated Missouri and forced them into taking bad shots. Nothing easy was given up against the set defensive match-up. (Transition D was another story.) All day long the Cats cut off passing lanes, forced turnovers, took charges, and defended back-door cuts which have been an issue in the past. The best stretch came with the game close and winding down. In the final 7 minutes of the game, K-State held the Tiggers to 3 total field goals, 2 of which came when the game was over.
Rebounding… K-State was grabbing everything. At the end of the game Missouri was outrebounded by 13. This area has been competitive but not great lately so seeing this outcome is very welcome. The Wildcats had second and third opportunities all morning long because of the boards.
Agent 0… Pullen is hitting his stride exactly when you would want him to. In this game he came out crazy scoring 11 points in the first 3 minutes of the game. At half time he had 15 points going 5-6 on fgs, and 3-3 on 3pt shots. His final numbers were 24 points on 4-4 from 3pt land including the dagger with 1:20 left in the game and going 8-9 from the line. On top of all that, you could tell Pullen was in control of the game. He managed the team and was the field general we’re going to need in the dance!
Bigs… CK and JHR came out to play against Mizzou. They took over the paint and forced HC Frank Martin to play with both of them on the floor rather than the regular smaller line-up. Kelly specifically rose to the occasion realizing that Missouri just didn’t have anyone to guard him. Instead of shotting mid-range and fade away shots, Kelly went to the rim and attacked it. Both guys played killer defense as well making it dangerous for the Tigers to even attempt inside play. Anytime both of these men get time in the “good” column, K-State will win. Their combined game totals: 21 points, 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 4 assists.
Riding the pine… I rarely second guess the decisions of Frank Martin but sitting Curtis Kelly, Jacob Pullen, and Rodney McGruder at the end of the first half didn’t go well. I know all three of them had 2 fouls but Pullen and McGruder are good enough to play despite that. Without those guys on the floor, K-State lost its head and stopped scoring which led to a 10-0 run by Missouri and a tie game. I understand sitting them for a bit but why wait so long to throw at least one of them back into the mix? As soon as Pullen did go back in, he scored on a nice drive to the basket and settled things back down. If you watched HCFM on Rome is Burning the other day you saw him talking about how he hates having a big lead at halftime. He got his wish by sitting those guys for too long.
Pressure… K-State did not handle Mizzou’s pressure well. Obviously the Tigers are much better than most teams in this department but Kansas State has got to be crisper in the fundamentals that are key to escaping pressure defense. Honestly, K-State was bailed out by fouls (legit ones) plenty of times. If that hadn’t happened, the horrible total of 17 turnovers would have ballooned to 20+. The players simply looked confused and unsure which led to bad passes and being loose with the ball. Instead of thinking ahead they played right into the press and found themselves trapped way too many times.
ESPN… The one job of ESPN when broadcasting a basketball game is to catch the action taking place on the court. I appreciate the graphics and stats and updates on other games progressing around the nation but don’t miss the freaking game that everyone watching is there for!! They missed the tip-off, the final inbound pass by K-State, and plenty in between. Figure it out! Unfortunately this game seemed like it was trial time for a new producer.