Egregious. Lopsided. Not possible. Homerism.
All words used to describe yesterday's game at the Drum in Austin, Texas, where the Wildcats traveled to begin what could be considered a four-game death march (@UT, v. KU, @BU, @MU).
In what could very well have been a "must-win" game for both teams, the Longhorns were gifted the game, and very much obliged by grabbing hold and running away.
It's a number that keeps popping up around blogs, game threads, and other news/media outlets.
In the first half: UT FTA = 20. KSU FTA = 12.
In the second half: UT FTA = 28. KSU FTA = 0.
Even after yesterday's game, K-State is sixth in the country at getting to the line as a team, averaging 26.2 FTA per game. Which is still above Texas' twelfth in the country rate of 25.3.
On the other side of the coin, K-State does put teams at the line nearly 23.8 times per game. Texas isn't far behind, again, with 22.8 trips a game.
How does a team that was on a roll - up 13 (40-27) at the half, come out and watch that lead completely evaporate in the first 7 minutes?
How does a team that averages 26 trips to the charity stripe per game not get there once in an entire half, against a team that puts their opponents there at a much-higher-than-average rate? Especially after a physical first half where both teams were physical, with 14 fouls called on K-State and 10 fouls on UT?
The simple fact is that teams are who they are, and it's even more obvious this late in the season. Both teams on the floor foul at a relatively high rate, and both teams on the floor get to the free throw line at an exceptionally high rate.
When one of those teams comes out and only commits 6 fouls in the second half, but in turn draws 19, shooting 28 free throws in the process, its officiating.
Sure you can look at the stats and say we went cold. You can say we turned the ball over. And you'd be right.
In the second half, our FG% was a dismal 32.8%, after shooting 51.9% in the first.
Turnovers increased from 7 in the first half to 9 in the second.
Do NOT let the 48 points UT scored in the second half fool you into thinking our defense was that much worse, though. In the second half, UT only attempted 16 FG (after 25 FG in the first), still committed 7 TOs.
There was a large debate about officiating on a previous Slate earlier in the week. I contend that while officials don't necessarily "lose" the game for a team, they absolutely can affect the outcome.
With that in mind, the 6th best team in the country in FTA per game - our Kansas State Wildcats - did not attempt a free throw after the 7:00 mark in the first half.
Where the lead disappeared was in the second half, from 18:00 to 13:00. In that five minute span:
KSU: 0-6 FG, 0-0 FTA, 6 fouls, 1 TO.
UT: 4-6 FG, 4-5 FTA, 3 fouls, 1 TO.
Sure, you could make the argument that K-State just played bad, and UT played well. But the damage had already been done by the officiating crew. The physicality on both ends of the floor hadn't changed whatsoever. But what the officials were calling on either end had. We were officially playing against 8 people, not 5.
The psychological impact of lopsided officiating cannot be underestimated. You can play as hard as you possibly can, and it doesn't matter. Eventually, you break. You start to play without conviction. "What's the point?" starts creeping into your thoughts. When you get roughed up on one end, but can't breathe on them on the other, it affects the way you play.
A bad call or a missed call causes a ripple in the equilibrium of the game. If it happens early, and even to both sides, there's a very high chance it won't affect the game. But what we saw on Saturday was calls for an entire half going largely in favor of one team. When this happens, it shifts the entire equilibrium toward the team that's receiving the calls. It is extraordinarily difficult for a team to outplay both the other team and the officials, which is what K-State had to do in the second half to win the game, even with the 14 point lead. They had to play not just very well - they had to play perfect. No TOs. Few missed shots. No 50/50 balls to UT. Secure every possible rebound. And it still may not have mattered.
K-State was outscored 24 points in the second half. Texas made 22 free throws in the second half. Don't tell me lopsided officiating can't affect the outcome of a basketball game.
Good Things To Take Away:
- Freshman Confidence: Angel, GIP and Diaz are really coming along. Sure, Angel has turnover problems at times. But he's showing a more controlled aggressiveness, better shot selection, and overall a better understanding of the game at K-State. GIP is starting to employ some different moves to keep things a little fresh on the offensive end; but in foul-heavy games, he's going to struggle. Diaz has become our second best option in the paint, and honestly, he runs that high-post on the offense much better than JO ever could. Diaz 16 feet from the bucket is believable. JO 16 feet from the bucket is not scaring anyone.
- Spradling's Shooting: More of a concept over the past two games, Will has finally done some work to convince us he knows where the goal is. We need him to make shots to win basketball games.
- Defense: I know having a team score 48 points on you in a half, this may seem like an odd comment. But we did only give up 41 FGA to a team that averages better than 56 FGA on the season.
Things to Improve On:
- Mental Fortitude: I know its tough, but its something we can continue to work on. We're going to play against 8 people every single time we travel to Lawrence, so being able to continue to execute, play with aggressiveness on both ends are both important in the face of poor reffing.
That's all I could find. I could say rebounding, but you're probably going to get out-rebounded when you have 20 more shot attempts than the opposition. I could say turnovers, but the 16 TOs we committed was not worlds beyond our 14.9 TO per game average. In all reality, we didn't play poorly. The officials gave it to UT, and UT took it and ran.
Individual Player Analysis:
- Rodney McGruder: B- 33 Minutes on a bum foot, and went 4-9 FG for 11 pts, had 8 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 1 STL, 2 fouls. Decent? Sure. Star-worthy? Nope. We're seeing why Rodney is so effective as a second option - since his breakout scoring streak earlier in the year, he has seen much tighter defense. Shooting percentages haven't necessarily dropped significantly, but he lacks the ability to truly create his own shot, so his opportunities have gone down.
- Will Spradling: B- 24 Minutes, 3-8 FG (3-7 3PFG) for 11 points, with 4 REB, 1 STL, and 4 fouls. He's shooting the ball with more confidence than he had the past couple weeks, which is good. Was a train wreck on defense for the most part - UT's Myck Kabongo abused Will every chance he got.
- Angel Rodriguez: B+ 27 Minutes, 6-13 FG (2-5 3PFG) for 15 points, 2 REB, 3 AST, 6 TOs, 1 STL, 3 fouls. Despite the 6 TOs, Angel did a great quantity of good things for this team yesterday. Angel is the only guy on the team that can actually create his own opportunities. Angel also passed up a number of 3's that he could have easily taken earlier in the year. His decision-making skills are growing.
- Jamar Samuels: C+ 22 Minutes, 1-5 FG for 3 points, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 2 STL, 5 fouls. Between getting called for fouls on the defensive end, and getting banged around on the offensive end and only attempting 2 FTs, he really played as well as could be expected. His ineffectiveness - especially in the second half - is a big reason why UT came back.
- Thomas Gipson: C 8 Minutes, 1-4 FG for 2 points, 2 REB, 1 TO, 4 fouls. The Big GIP suffered from a more extreme fate of Jamar, getting fouled nearly every time on offense, but getting called for a foul nearly every trip on defense.
- Jordan Henriquez: C- 14 Minutes, 0-3 FG, 1 point, 2 REB, 1 TO, 1 STL, 4 fouls. Jordan is just a shell of himself, and it's sad to watch. Maybe it is partially due to Adrian's progression in this position, but Adrian brings much more to the table as the anchoring big man. He at least got a few more minutes, albeit because of foul trouble.
- Adrian Diaz: A- 29 Minutes, 5-10 FG for 11 points, 4 REB, 1 BLK, 4 fouls. I'm really starting to dig this kid. You can tell his confidence is increasing, his understanding of the game is increasing, and his capabilities are growing. I feel much more comfortable with him running the high-post handoff in the pinch-post, as opposed to JO or even GIP. Adrian also shows a lot of hustle and finesse around the rim compared to our other bigs. I'm almost giddy at the thought of Angel, GIP and Diaz as seniors.
- Shane Southwell: A- 32 Minutes, 3-4 FG for 7 points, 3 REB, 4 AST, 2 TO, 2 BLK, 1 STL, 5 fouls. Paradox had a very solid game, despite the foul DQ. Played exceptional defense in the first half, and solid defense in the second. His main charge was UT's J'Covan Brown, who wasn't necessarily getting better looks in the second half, he just started making shots. He shows flashes of aggressiveness with the ball in the half-court set that I wish he would do more. And had the breakaway dunk on UT's Clint Chapman in the first half that was very impressive, and showed his athleticism. Need more of it, son.
- Martavious Irving: C 5 minutes, 1-1 FG for 3 points, 1 foul. His on-ball defense - something he's been a stalwart of - has dropped off recently. Between Will starting to hit shots (trade 'O' for 'D'?), Angel playing a much better game top-to-bottom, and Shane/Rod playing the wing spots, I guess it's not necessarily surprising Tay had so few minutes.
- Victor Ojeleye, Nino Williams and Omari Lawrence all logged 2 minutes each. Some will say that Victor not playing means the rest of the team has their head in the right place. Nino comes in, chucks a three at first look with 25 seconds left on the shot clock (which triggered the run UT made to erase our halftime lead), and Omari played garbage time at the end of the game.