I wrote in my last post that defense would be more essential than offense for the Wildcats to defeat Southern Miss on Thursday afternoon. Season statistics indicated that would be the case, and game statistics confirmed the trend yesterday; the Golden Eagles shot just 36.7 percent from the floor, and of course the Wildcats came away with another win.
While Kansas State probably cannot take all the credit for that Southern Miss statistic, it certainly shows you my point: as goes the Wildcats' defense, so go the Wildcats.
The Wildcats are 16-4 this season when their defense holds opponents between 50 and 69 points. Similarly, they are 21-6 when opponents make less than 50 percent of their shots.
Still, Kansas State will need more offensive variety to defeat Syracuse on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. Three players scored in double figures on Thursday, and no one else scored more than five points.
Rodney McGruder carried the team with his 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Jordan Henriquez scored 15 points, blocked 6 shots and snagged 9 rebounds. Angel Rodriguez contributed 13 points and four assists, though he also had three turnovers. Those three guys were the only ones who scored more than five points.
In fairness, Samuels did have eight rebounds and three assists, so while he did not ever get a field goal, he did contribute in other ways. It is disappointing to see a senior not make more of an impact on the scoreboard, though, so it will be interesting to see what he does in this next game against Syracuse.
Looking at the stat sheet, there is not much redemption for Spradling. He never turned the ball over, but in 37 minutes he only had one assist. Then again, everyone knows how hard he works, and his fundamentals are solid, and he is a smart defender. Obviously, coach Frank Martin would not have Spradling - or anyone else - on the floor unless he believed it would benefit the team, and since Martin is a coach and I am not, I will defer to his judgment for now.
All that said, my guess is that you must have at least four guys in double figures to beat Syracuse. I haven't seen the Orange play much this season, but the team is a No. 1 seed for a reason. I don't think it will be beaten by three players scoring 10-plus and a few other guys scoring five or fewer points. Even if the Wildcats end with three players in double figures and three more with seven, eight or nine points, they might be okay.
McGruder and Henriquez have been the most consistent recently from a scoring perspective, but it will take more than those two to put away Syracuse.
*I originally posted this story to my blog, fabuloussportsbabe.wordpress.com.*