Postgame Reaction: A Seventh Flag Flies Over Texas

(Sorry this is so late -- TB)

When I was in college, I went to Austin one spring.  While there, I killed an hour by taking a tour of the state capitol.  One of the things they pointed out first was the six flags, symbolizing the six sovereign nations that have occupied Texas.

You can add a seventh.

K-State continued its recent hex over the University of Texas with a 71-62 victory on Monday in Manhattan.  It was really the only type of win this team lacked this year.  It's beaten patsies.  It's beaten good mid-majors.  It's beaten some decent major conference schools.  Now, it has defeated the top-ranked team in the country.  Here are my thoughts on the game.

What I liked:

The atmosphere at the Octagon of Doom.  That place was packed and it was jacked for the Beardout.  Great job to all of the fans for making life miserable for Texas.  In fact, the only time I was disappointed in the crowd was the "Overrated" cheer, but they quickly made up for that with "We Own Texas!"  Brilliant.

Seeing role players step up when needed.  I'm looking directly at Jamar Samuels and Rodney McGruder here.  Samuels came off the bench and utterly outplayed Texas' Damion James, and provided a huge spark in the first half when our play seemed to be stagnating.  It's a crime that I forgot to mention McGruder in the Colorado postgame discussion, but I'll do it now.  Even though he didn't knock down outside shots as he characteristically would, he found his way to the offensive glass for some easy and timely putbacks.  And don't even get me started on his huge breakaway finish through Dogus Balbay's foul late in the second half.  I loved the baseline camera that was right under him after he made that shot.  The crowd was going insane and you could tell from the look on his face that he was experiencing it for the first time when he was the center of attention.

Stifling defense and crashing the glass.  Our offense was, uhh, not very good in the second half.  But the defensive effort never waivered, and we outrebounded Texas, 50-41.  James complained in the postgame about missed layups, but in rewatching the game late last night, a lot of the "layups" that Texas missed were not exactly gimmees.  In a lot of cases, Texas players got into shots they would rather not take as a result of K-State's defensive pressure.  As for the rebounding, it speaks for itself.  James is the Big 12's all-time leading rebounder, and people could ski down Dexter Pittman if he stood out in the snow long enough, and we outrebounded them by nine.

Taking a good team's best shot and answering.  This is probably the most important.  We knew Texas would come out of the locker room firing, and they did.  Our 10-point lead evaporated, and UT took a lead.  The building was nervous, the fans were on edge, the players were frustrated.  And then, just like that, we went on an 8-0 run to regain control.  Later, Texas put on another push that cut into the lead, and again our players answered by regaining control of the game.  This team's composure was impressive on Monday.

Frank on the sideline.  Basketball, like all sports is entertainment.  And watching Frank Martin coach a game is flat-out entertaining.  I'm trying to decide which was better, him running to the end of the bench to avoid getting a technical when Pittman tried to make non-consensual man-love to Luis Colon and they called Colon for the foul, or when he exhorted the crowd to stand up and scream on a huge defensive possession late in the game.

What I didn't like:

Dom's late-game technical.  He got bailed out on this one by the fact that the game was out of reach and that they called a double-technical.  I know it was chippy out there and a lot of chatter was going on, but that was one where Sutton just needed to point to the scoreboard and walk away.

Denis trying to do too much.  At several points in the game, I was left shaking my head at what Clemente was trying to do.  We're going to need him to play well if we want to keep winning, but he needs to not force things so much.

That's about it.  Hard to complain too much when you beat the No. 1 team.

What it means and where we're going:

We have now officially announced that we are a contender for the Big 12 title.  We held serve at home, have picked up a road win, and have games at home against two of the other best contenders, KU and Missouri.  At this point, if we can hold serve at home, pick up road wins against ISU, NU, and Tech, then the season would essentially come down to road games against KU and Baylor.  Win one of those, and we're likely in at worst a tie for first.

But that's more than six weeks away.  Tomorrow, Oklahoma State arrives in Manhattan, and if we don't win that one, the game on Monday won't mean a whole lot.

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