Wisconsin has a remarkably annoying tendency to bring out the worst in opposing players.
Tonight, that's what happened to everyone but Jacob Pullen and perhaps Curtis Kelly in the first half. It's absolutely tragic that Pullen's 38-point performance tonight resulted in a 70-65 loss, and quite honestly, his teammates should be embarrassed.
Not even Pullen's absolute invincibility (except vs. the referees) could overcome 0 field goals from Will Spradling, Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts. Also, the idea somehow still being perpetuated by the announcers that Jordan Taylor even belonged in the same league as Jacob Pullen was absolutely absurd, and Taylor himself basically said as much in his postgame interview. That's like comparing Jason Terry to Kobe Bryant.
Obviously, Taylor made a decent play at the end when everyone in the arena and watching on television knew who was going to take that shot, but it doesn't change the fact that he got absolutely embarrassed by Pullen in the first 39 minutes and 58 seconds. Plus, the only reason Taylor did anything at all offensively was because Jake got into foul trouble early.
That being said, I've been giving Spradling a lot of grief for his defense all season, so it's only fair that I give him some credit for the way he played tonight on Jordan Taylor in an emergency situation, and really, the way he's played in the last three weeks or so. His transformation on the defensive end has been nothing short of spectacular, even if his best weapon is still
getting run over taking charges.
Unfortunately, I think the most disappointing thing about this game for Kansas State was the absence of Spradling and especially Rodney McGruder offensively. I'll give Spradling a pass because he's a freshman and still took care of the ball well, but early in the game McGruder airballed the kind of wide open, spot-up three he makes 75% of the time, and he never recovered. K-State's leading rebounder wound up with just three boards in a game where he had a clear athletic advantage. That's unacceptable.
Finally, and I hate to admit this and hope to go more in depth later, but Frank got outcoached tonight. Bo Ryan knows what he's doing, but some of Frank's substitutions and his inability to get his struggling players turned around was hard to watch. Here's hoping he learns how to get the most out of his players without a Jacob Pullen, or we're going to have some serious issues in the future.