The Kansas State Wildcats (10-7, 3-1 Big 12) got a win at home, taking the midweek contest from the visiting Texas Tech Red Raiders. In the win, we did the absolute minimum required to still come away with a win. And as good as the Big 12 conference is this year, top to bottom, let's just take our win and move on, shall we?
The victory puts us at 3-1 in the conference race, good for a tie for 2nd in the conference. It's also an extension of our now 3-game winning streak.
Texas Tech will be at a disadvantage to every team in the conference this year - they are very young, and what little talent they have is very raw. However, they have the stick-to-it-iveness to hang on against many teams except the most elite. Their ability to get to the offensive glass, combined with their ability to get to the free throw line, will keep them in games longer than they should honestly be in. 1-17, 2-16 isn't outside the realm of possibility.
K-State never really got a rhythm going tonight. Didn't start well, and couldn't keep anything going smoothly without the tendency to give it right back. A great example is late in the first half, the Wildcats managed to stretch the game out to a 14-point spread at 26-12, then let TTU right back into it by giving up a 8-0 run before Nigel Johnson closed out the first half with a runner to go back up by eight.
More of the same in the second half. K-State took the lead at 7-4 and never relinquished from that point, but allowed Texas Tech to significantly erode away several double-digit leads, even coming to within one point at a point in the second half at 36-35. On a night when no one was spectacular (or even better than just passable), everyone in the white and purple did just enough to get by. Not sure that's what we want, but it was good enough for a victory.
K-State surrounded 17 offensive rebounds to Texas Tech, including four on a single discombobulated possession in the second half that resulted in approximately 13 people falling on the floor and two Red Raider free throws. The 13 people on their backsides may or may not be an exaggeration.
Eleven turnovers is well below our season average of just over 14, and one reason why we were still able to sneak away from the game.
Another way - frankly, the biggest reason - K-State came away with a victory was from the free throw line. The Wildcats went 21-26 from the charity stripe, well above our season average of 66.2%.
K-State Player Of The Game: Wesley Iwundu
While Marcus Foster may have the better stat line in the box score, Iwundu gets the award for the night. Wes contributed 10 points, added 4 boards, 1 assist, 1 block, but played a team high 37 minutes. He also had several instances where he was responsible for ball handling duties, and played solid defense both inside and out. Iwundu's contributions that don't show up in the box is why he's earning this honor today.
"...One of their MVPs...a glue guy...a hard matchup..." - Tubby Smith, on Wesley Iwundu in postgame
Other Player Notes
Foster had the statline of the game for the Wildcats, amassing 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists in 32 minutes, including a 6-8 effort from the line.
Justin Edwards continued to fill in well spelling Foster, and finished with 9 points, 4 boards, 1 steal, 1 block and 1 assist in only 16 minutes of play.
Bench players were big for Texas Tech, with Devaugntah Williams coming off the bench (for some undisclosed reason) and played 31 minutes, chipping in 13 points, 3 rebounds. Robert Turner also started on the pine, but tallied 16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in 29 minutes. Both players were huge keys in keeping Texas Tech close, especially in the second half. It would be amiss to not mention Zach Smith, who finished with 6 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
1. Move Along - Nothing To See Here
A win is a win. Move on and focus on getting better. Not much to take away from this game from a positive standpoint, and nothing to talk about from a negative perspective that we don't already know. Lack of consistency, lack of continuity in effort. Where have we heard that before?
2. Rebounding Practice
With Baylor next up on the schedule, we better spend some time on fundamental rebounding, and figure out how to keep opposing players off the glass. Otherwise, we're going to get owned on the boards on Saturday.
#EMAW continues their homestand against the Baylor Bears on Saturday, January 17, in Bramlage Coliseum. After their win tonight against Iowa Sate, we're gonna need a leeeeeeeettle bit better effort to extend our winning streak to four.