Just to let you know, I'm completely skipping out on a gym training session for mountain bike season to bring you this post-game writeup. I hope you all enjoy the tremendous sacrifice I'm weathering to do this. You know, since I'm such a budding journalist and all.
It was bound to happen. Sooner or later, K-State was going to really play a good game. And they weren't going to lose.
K-State travels to Mizzou Arena in Columbia for the last time in the foreseeable future. We say we're up one game in the overall history - they say we're tied.
They can't say that anymore, unless they come up with another fake box score from 1902 or some such ridiculousness.
What we witnessed was arguably - and its probably a pretty easy argument - the best game the boys in Purple (or black, on this particular occasion) have played this entire year. Bar none.
Granted, K-State just presents match-up nightmares galore for Mizzou. With only two players on the roster that hit 6-8, K-State should be able to, and did, dominate the interior. There's no secret as to why K-State won - we simply played better than Mizzou did. Even with their sharpshooter guards lurking around the outside, and Missouri G Michael Dixon getting to the rim whenever he wanted, K-State was just too much for Mizzou on, well, the season, apparently.
- We probably just handed the Big 12 regular season championship to KU. That's 1800 College Ave, Manhattan, KS, 66502 when you get ready to send us the check, Beakers.
- We held three straight Top-10 opponents to under 40% FG. Impressive stat.
Good Things To Take Away:
- Two Straight. That makes two straight road wins against Top-10 opponents (#10 Baylor in Waco on Saturday) in four days. I had a strong suspicion that this team wouldn't rest on the laurels of victory against the Bears, but use it as a catapult toward inspired and confident play against the Tigers. With those two wins, we've gone from strong bubble to lock for the NCAA tourney.
- Confident Play. This was the most confident I've seen our guys play for 40 minutes. Couple of hiccups here and there - especially when MU made a run cutting the lead to 4 with Angel on the bench - but all in all, everyone came to play ball tonight. There wasn't a single player we had in there that made me question where their head was at. As such, we outrebounded MU 33-27, outassisted them 17-15, outblocked them 6-2, only committed 11 TOs, shot nearly 54% FG, and nearly 73% FT. That, my friends, is how you win a basketball game against a very good team in their building.
- Settled Rotation: Seems HCFM has settled on a rotation. Seems like he does this every February. Ahem, I mean, Frankuary. Only 9 saw the floor, with two of the nine picking up fewer than 10 minutes each. That means (a) we didn't need to go deep into the bench, and (b) Frank's finding some consistency from his players. JO has been massive the past couple of games. Jamar has been playing like he's *gasp* a senior. GIP has been a solid backup for those two. Martavious has shown back up, and Will/Angel are still, well, Will and Angel. But they look like they're starting to gel...in Frankuary.
Things To Improve On:
- Staying At Home. We need to work on staying at home against good outside shooting teams, especially in the zone defense. Mizzou had some good looks at the bucket from beyond the arc by moving the ball from inside to out, then swinging the ball around. Thankfully, they didn't make many of them. Credit the defense with that; when they did get open looks, they were still relatively low percentage shots.
- Blocking Out. Even though we outrebounded MU on the game, we did cough up more OREBs than we got. Couple of times, we got stuck in the "jump straight up and tap the ball around" mode instead of finding our guy, putting a butt on them, and going to the ball.
- Lackadaisical Passes. Our ball movement didn't necessarily slow down in the second half, but during MU's run, we did start throwing some sloppy passes. I can handle stolen passes down on the baseline (say, a closed off backdoor cut). But tipped and intercepted passes up on the high wing are inexcusable. They typically lead directly to two points on the other end - which, is exactly how they made their run. Angel and Will need to value the ball 100% of the time.
Listen up - I'm adding two new stats:
First, Plus/Minus. This is the points K-State scored subtract the points allowed by K-State, while the player was on the floor. Intent is to show raw statistics for how much direct benefit the team receives from the player.
Second, Roland Rating (RR). This is the player's on-court plus/minus subtract the player's off-court plus/minus. Intent is to show raw statistics for how the player influences the game based on when they're playing versus when they're on the bench.
Individual Player Analysis:
- Rodney McGruder: A. Dude had game tonight. After having a couple of off nights, he's slowly brought it back, culminating in a maestro-esque performance tonight. 36 minutes, 24 PTS on 7-14 FG (2-2 3PFG), 8-8 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 TOs and 1 foul. Plus/Minus: +4, RR: -2. Made outside shots, made buckets from the post, made aggressive drives, made stop-and-pop jumpers. Solid D on the other end, even coming up with arguably the game-sealing rebound and outlet pass to Jamar with 40 seconds left.
- Angel Rodriguez: A-. For all the rough nights he has, he has some pretty spectacular nights, too. 20 minutes, 7 PTS on 2-5 FG (1-1 3PFG), 2-4 FT, 3 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 2 TOs, 2 fouls. Plus/Minus: +8, RR: +6. For all the questionable decisions he makes, he makes great decisions too. And he does things athletically and with vision that no other guard on the team has. The alley-oop to JO late in the second half? Come on. No one else on the team sees that pass, let alone makes it. 3:1 A/T ratio is stellar, and his defense has really improved throughout the year. Starting to learn how to play defense rather than foul. But darn it, kid - make your clutch FTs!
- Will Spradling: B. 33 minutes, 8 PTS on 3-6 FG (1-2 3PFG), 1-2 FT, 1 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 3 TOs, 4 fouls. Plus/Minus: +9, RR: +8. Didn't even realize he had four fouls until I just typed that. Will plays solid, but didn't have one of his better nights, committing more TOs than AST. The hyped pressure D that MU brought midway through the second half really bothered Will. And if there's one thing I'm really starting to get bothered by, it's that he has absolutely no...left...hand. Jeebus, force him left with a defender with quick hands and he's a TO waiting to happen.
- Jamar Samuels: A-. 36 minutes, with 9 PTS on 3-7 FG (1-1 3PFG), 2-4 FT, 11 REB, 1 AST, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 3 fouls. Plus/Minus: +11, RR: +12. Jamar has played the last three games with tremendous heart, tremendous energy, tremendous inspiration. I give him the "minus" because he still misses too many point-blank buckets for my liking. I hope he can keep up this effort for the rest of his college career.
- Jordan Henriquez: A. 20 minutes, with 6 PTS on 2-4 FG, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 4 BLK, 3 fouls. Statsheet.com hates JO, so I don't have his Plus/Minus numbers. JO didn't turn the ball over (major plus), played with effort (major plus), came up with a couple of huge rebounds and held onto the ball (major plus), and had probably the biggest back-to-back plays in his career - an alley-oop from Angel followed immediately by a gutsy defensive rebound that kept our lead at 8 late in the game. Worth noting - JO is now the K-State all-time leading rim protector, with 125 career blocked shots.
- Thomas Gipson: A-. GIP killed it off the bench tonight. 19 minutes, with 13 PTS on 6-7 FG, 1-2 FT, 3 REB, 2 TO. Plus/Minus +9, RR: +8. He was just too big for anyone on Mizzou to handle on the interior. GIP made great interior post moves, even going to his right shoulder once (a miracle in itself). Is it the double-double he was posting against early season foes? Nope. But Missouri in Columbia is not North Florida in MHK, either. Very solid minutes in backup to JO and Jamar.
- Martavious Irving: A. 22 minutes with 7 PTS on 3-7 FG (1-3 3PFG), 2 REB, 3 AST, 0 TO, 3 fouls. Plus/Minus: +2, RR: -6. Also, a very very solid game from Tay. Welcome back, son. Good to see Martavious out there D'ing up, hitting his little dribble-drive jumpers, and playing decent, ball-control (3:0 A/T) guard play. I like the things Angel and Will bring to the table a little more as starters, but this is a darn nice backup to have.
- Shane Southwell: B+. A decidedly Paradox game. Only made it in for 9 minutes, but boy did he have an effect on the game. 4 PTS on 2-2 FG, 5 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO. Plus/Minus: +7, RR: +4. No idea why he only played 9 minutes, but I never saw myself saying "Put Shane in the game!" He came, he did his thing, he vanished.
- Victor Ojeleye: C. VO made it in for 5 minutes. Plus/Minus: -4, RR: -18. Managed to throw two passes - one got stolen for a TO, the other led to a bucket for an AST. That's it. Just spelled other players for brief periods, or when HCFM decided to yell at someone.