In the span of five days, K-State experienced the spectrum of emotions, dropping formerly No. 1 Texas on Big Monday, and turning around to lose on its home court to unranked Oklahoma State on Saturday. Even worse, we went from dreams of a conference championship after the win over Texas to just hoping the team can avoid a debilitating three-game losing streak with a road trip to Baylor and a visit from KU on the slate this week.
After falling behind 10-2 less than four minutes into the game, Oklahoma State switched to a 2-3 zone, and K-State never did figure it out. Well, let me take that back. They got a ton of open three-point looks, as you'd expect against a 2-3, but converted less than 30 percent of those looks for the game. In other words, we were never able to shoot them out of the zone, and when it became obvious that we weren't hitting, we didn't adjust by penetrating, drawing the defender, and hitting the open man.
Those are my overarching thoughts, hit the jump to see a few specifics.
What I liked (not much):
More solid play by Rodney McGruder. Yet another double-digit game for the freshman, on an efficient 4-6 shooting day. He also made as many thee-pointers as Jake Pullen, and on nine fewer attempts.
Curtis Kelly making another appearance. I can live with 13 and five from Kelly most nights. Not his best day, but a damn sight better than those games where he disappeared.
What I didn't like:
An utter loss of composure. At home. When things started going badly, they didn't snap out of it with a timely run like in the game against Texas. Instead, they bickered with the refs and the Cowboys, and neither worked out well. I love Frank Martin, and Denis Clemente has done so much for this team, but those technical fouls were not helpful at all in this game. Whether they were deserved is obviously debatable, given that it's been a long time since I've seen a game where three technical fouls were called, but that really doesn't matter. They were called and they did hurt.
Pullen's continuing slump. I hesitate to criticize Jake at all, because he has been this team's motor all year, but something is off right now. It probably is nothing more than the fact that he missed a few at some point, and now it's in his head that something is wrong. Once he hits a couple, it'll be on again, but that's going to have to happen first.
A complete inability to adjust. It wasn't just the zone, but that was bad enough. We had an advantage inside, but we couldn't space the floor and get it to our big guys. We have guards that can penetrate, but Pullen didn't want to, and Denis has forgotten how to pass off the drive. And we couldn't make a shot against the zone, and yet we kept taking them over, and over, and over again.
Just as bad was our inability to adjust to the officiating. While I agree they called a subpar game, you're not going to change how they're calling it. We never adjusted to what was being called and what wasn't, and it cost us.
What it means and where we're going:
We had no more than inserted ourselves into the conference race than we put ourselves behind the eight-ball (how many cliches can I use in this post?). Despite everyone talking about how KU isn't playing all that well, they're going along quietly and winning games. With the hurting they're putting on Missouri tonight, they'll be 5-0. Meanwhile, we already have two losses, one of those at home, and we have to travel to Baylor tomorrow and come home and get a visit from KU on Saturday. If we play like we did against Texas, we'll win both games. If we play like we did against Oklahoma State, we'll lose both and be out of the conference race for good by the end of the week.
While Baylor was scary enough to begin with, the Bears are terrifying now that we saw how our team played against Oklahoma State's 2-3 zone. It's not like OSU drills that 2-3 zone all day, every day. It was a secondary defense for them. Baylor, on the other hand, plays 2-3 as its primary set, and they're good at it. If we play on offense like we did Saturday, we will get drilled. Let's hope every minute of practice since Saturday has been spent working on ball movement and spacing against a zone defense.