The Kansas State Wildcats (12-12, 5-6 Big 12) are now officially under water in conference play, and are dropping towards the bottom like we have concrete shoes on. Strangely enough, we're still a half-game up (and alone in 7th place) on the team we just lost to - the Texas Longhorns - by a score of 61-57.
Texas (15-8, 4-6 Big 12) is big, and Texas rebounds. We're not big, and we don't rebound well. That's pretty much all you need to know. A hot streak from outside was our only shot. Texas took as much as a 12-point lead in the first half before a flurry of Tre Harris threes, and by some small miracle two made Jevon Thomas free throws at the end of half, brought the Wildcats back even at intermission at 27-all.
K-State actually took the lead in the second half by as many as four with some inspired play coming out of the break. But the combination of the interior size of Texas and the determination of sophomore guard Isaiah Taylor eventually wore the Cats down, stretching out to a nine-point lead again in the second half. A late flurry of threes by Nigel Johnson pulled the Wildcats back to 59-57 with 34 seconds left. K-State had a great opportunity to tie the game after two missed free throws by Taylor, but the play to Thomas Gipson ended just like all the others did in that direction this afternoon - a highly contested, missed field goal attempt by Gip at the backboard, and a defensive rebound by Texas. Taylor made two more from the stripe to seal the deal with 1.4 seconds left on the clock.
Texas was clearly missing Jonathan Holmes and Javan Felix (both out due to concussions), but it was K-State that still has no legitimate primary scoring option with Marcus Foster sitting out his suspension. This game wasn't as bad as the previous game versus Texas Tech - this one was winnable down to the last minute - but we just don't have the firepower to win games right now. With the key players for both sides out, both teams actually played zone a considerable amount (they're both primarily man-to-man defenders). The lack of credibility from beyond the arc from either side caused both teams to drop into a 2-3, and egg on perimeters to shoot over the top.
Zero. Zilch. Nil. Zip. 0.
That's exactly how many shots from the floor big man Gip made today - 0-fer-7. Gip did finish with 5 points (5-6 FT) and 5 rebounds, but the constant length and athleticism of the Texas frontcourt did a tremendous job at keeping Gip at bay.
By far the fewest of the season, as a matter of fact - the Wildcats only turned the ball over 5 times. Nope, their issues were simply the ability to put the ball in the bucket. Also represents the number of offensive rebounds Texas got their hands on, representing a not-all-bad effort on the glass.
13 of 15.
K-State actually assisted on 13 of their 15 made field goals; the problem is they only made 15 field goals (31.7%).
The number of points scored by one of our K-State Player(s) of the Game...
K-State Player(s) Of The Game: Tre Harris and Nino Williams
Tre Harris came in off the bench and provided a huge spark to the team to keep them in the game in the first half. Harris drained 3 of 4 threes in the first half, and another 1 of 2 in the second, to finish with 12 points on 4-6 3PFG, and also contributed a rebound and an assist.
Nino gets a shout-out here for playing 32 minutes on a bum knee, putting up a team-high 13 points (4-10 FG, 1-1 3PFG, 4-4 FT) and a team-high 8 rebounds. Nino didn't shoot as well as he did during that hot streak of his, but he certainly stayed in there and played hard the whole game.
Other Player Notes
Nigel Johnson also came off the bench, finishing with 10 points (3-6 FG, 3-5 3PFG, 1-2 FT) in 15 minutes of action.
Jevon Thomas went for 4 points, but also contributed 4 ast (to 1 TO), 2 rebounds and 2 steals in a team-high 34 minutes courttime before fouling out.
Wesley Iwundu also contributed 7 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds.
Isaiah Taylor just tore us up all night; not a single player with purple could stay in front of him. Taylor went for a game-high 23 points with 4 assists and 2 rebounds, and played all but a minute in the contest. The frontcourt rotation of starters Cameron Ridley and Myles Turner, and key subs Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert had this statline:
29 points (12-17 FG, 3-7 3PFG, 2-6 FT), 20 rebounds, 2 assists, 7 blocks, 5 TOs
That's actually very efficient production, and big key why Texas went home with the W.
1. We have no legitimate primary scoring options with Foster not on the floor.
We've got a bunch of role players. Even Gip is a secondary option. Here's the problem: we don't have anyone that can (a) create their own shot, or (b) even reliably make shots on a consistent basis, outside of maybe Gip (inside, by virtue of getting to the line) and Nino (with his 12-15 foot jumper game). The problem is that our scheme doesn't effectively get the defense out of position. For anyone to get good looks in our offensive scheme, someone has to be drawing the defense toward them. That player has always been Foster this year. Even as a decoy, he helps get the defense stretched or shifted, and that gets players like Nino open. It keeps players from doubling-down on Gip. It gets the backside open.
If I were our opponents, I'd play 2-3 zone every single minute against us. Hell, even when Foster comes back. Tre Harris is the only reliable outside shooter we have, and he's really unproven to a certain extent. We don't have anyone tall enough to punish on the inside, and a zone lets you double Gip much more effectively, as well as set up even a third tier of defense for blocking shots. Our guards don't handle the ball well enough to be a threat on dribble penetration against a zone. No one else on the team has the foggiest clue on how to even play against a zone.
2. Effort only goes so far.
Skill has to be present to win at this level. It's probably an extension of the previous thought, but we have a team full of players that have difficulty making open shots. We had open shots all night, and just couldn't find the net with them. Some of the misses - again, on open shots - in the first half were just downright atrocious.
Defense will keep you in the games, yes. But the fact is: we've gone five straight without scoring 60 points. We're not Wisconsin. If we can't break 60...
3. We might not win another game this season.
This really isn't hyperbole. Show me one game in the following list that we would be favored:
- @ #15 WVU
- #21 OU
- @ TCU
- @ #19 BU
- #8 KU
- #11 ISU
- @ #25 UT
It doesn't exist. We very well could lose every single one of those games. Any you know what? It's not fair. It's not fair to the fans that show up. It's not fair to the rest of #EMAW that cheers for, supports, or even just follows the team. It's not fair to see the talent that this team actually has - and it has enough to be competitive in this league - be wasted by stupidity. By attitude. By complexity. By bad coaching. By not being put in a position to succeed. By bumblef**king around out on the court for the whole world to see.
On Wednesday, February 11, #EMAW travels to Morgan
Huggytown to take on a West Virginia team that just got beat up by Baylor today. Great. This'll be fun.