But it sure didn't look like it as KSU struggled from the opening tip to even get the ball inbounds, let alone bring it up the court against Bob Huggins' ultra-aggressive defense. When the Wildcats did manage to somehow avoid a turnover or a West Virginia foul, they still often forced bad shots and looked to be playing way too fast, especially early.
A knee injury to Nino Williams in the first half proved to be a little too much to overcome for K-State, who had no answer to an 11-2 run by West Virginia midway through the second half. Missed free throws killed any hopes for a rally and Marcus Foster never really got going, even though he managed to finish with a team-high 15 points.
The 'Cats can't be faulted for their effort in front of a disappointed home crowd that probably deserves a refund after having to watch something that sort of resembled basketball for nearly two and a half hours. They just didn't really channel it in the right direction most of the night and couldn't get settled into any sort rhythm offensively.
Jevon Thomas provided the perfect example of that, as the 6-1, 180-pound point guard led the Wildcats with seven rebounds and harassed Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Juwan Staten all night, holding him to just 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting. But Thomas also scored only 5 points, fouled out, and didn't do nearly enough to help Kansas State beat the relentless fullcourt pressure.
Wesley Iwundu added 12 points and Thomas Gipson had 8, but that wasn't nearly enough to prevent the Wildcats from suffering a loss they really couldn't afford. Home wins are a must to make up for that awful nonconference and this one was there for the taking, even with Williams on the bench.
In conclusion, if you were looking for any sort of evidence that K-State will be able to withstand the early energy and immense pressure Kansas is guaranteed to bring on Saturday in Lawrence, well....you're going to want to look elsewhere. If you didn't watch this game, consider yourself lucky.
That was the number of turnovers Kansas State had against the best turnover defense in the nation......in the first half. The Wildcats did it in just about every way — 10-second violations, 5-second violations (inbounds and on-ball), errant passes, poor dribbling, offensive fouls. However you wanted to dial it up, K-State turned it over in a simply miserable offensive half, other than maybe a shot clock violation just because they couldn't keep the ball that long. Man, this team needs a real point guard. Miss you, Angel.
Speaking of point guards, this was the free throw percentage of the guy who starts at that position for Kansas State. Thomas did a lot of good things and provides a ton of energy, but he's simply too much of a liability when he shoots free throws like that, particularly in a game like this. As a team, Kansas State made just 10 of 22 free throws (45%) in the second half. That's embarrassing.
Fouls on fouls on fouls. West Virginia was deeper, so even though they had 28 of these, it played to their advantage.
That was the number of technical fouls in this game, beginning with one on West Virginia's Jonathan Holton for taunting. Or something. Bruce Weber picked one up as well, and it's a minor miracle neither he nor Huggy Bear picked up any others, considering how much of the game they spent yelling at the officials, who just didn't really know what to do with the insane amount of contact happening on the court.
K-State Player Of The Game: Thomas Gipson
Listen, there just weren't any good choices here, OK?
Foster had 6 turnovers. Iwundu had 4 and both shot terribly. Thomas had his free throw issues and just one assist. When Big Gip got the basketball, which should have happened more often, he went up strong and made some nice plays inside.
He finished with 8 points and 6 rebounds, made 2 of 6 field goals, and 4 of 6 free throws. But I don't remember him making any huge mistakes other than maybe being a little too deliberate down low on occasion, which is more than I can say for most of the guys on this Kansas State team tonight.
Other Player Notes
After playing his best game as a Wildcat, Justin Edwards was basically useless offensively Tuesday night. He missed all four shots he took and committed two turnovers, rarely even looking like much of a threat when K-State desperately needed one. At least he had four rebounds and a block, I guess.
Marcus Foster continues to search for consistency shooting the ball, although at least he did hit a three to give K-State a second half lead and another late provide the slightest bit of hope. But he missed six others and shot 4-for-12 from the field, often struggling to get much separation from his defender. Most importantly, he had the six turnovers mentioned above and also made just 5-of-9 from the line.
Malek Harris provided a bit of a spark off the bench, using his size inside to score six points and grab three rebounds. He still needs some work finishing around the basket and playing a little quicker, but there's some potential there.
For West Virginia, Juwan Staten might have had a bad game, but he still hit some huge shots, most notably a guarded jump shot at the end of a great defensive possession for Kansas State to make it 53-48 Mountaineers with 5:38 left. No one else even reached double figures for WVU.
1. My eyes are still bleeding.
Seriously, I know I've said before Kansas State's best chance to beat good teams is to win ugly, but this was taking it a little too far. Bob Huggins teams will do that, I guess, although I can't really say much when the team I support is coached by Bruce Weber. Hello, old Illinois teams that would foul, foul and foul with a deep bench.
When the most basic tasks (dribbling across halfcourt, inbounding the ball) look painfully difficult and both teams shoot 36% from the field, it makes for a long night. The referees didn't help.
2. Need more scorers.
If Nino Williams can't come back soon, this becomes a much more pressing issue. Marcus Foster finding his stroke would be a huge boost and Gip could do more inside, but really K-State needs some of its secondary scorers to step up. The most likely candidates remain Wesley Iwundu and Justin Edwards, two athletic guys capable of getting to the basket and even shooting from the outside. Unfortunately, they've struggled to find any sort of consistency and occasionally look lost out on the floor.
3. Gear up for the road.
Incredibly, this was just the third Big 12 home loss of the Bruce Weber era. Bramlage has been friendly. Opposing gyms? Not so much. This year's Wildcats are 1-4 (with an impressive OT win at Oklahoma) and Weber is just 9-12 on the road in conference play.
Three of K-State's next four games are on the road, and even a trip to Lubbock can't be considered an easy win by any stretch of the imagination. Even if the 'Cats pull that one out, they'll still probably want to win at Lawr -- nope, can't even finish that thought -- or Morgantown to have any prayer of making the NCAA tourney. Time is running out and things are only getting tougher.
K-State travels to Lawrence for its annual
beatdown rivalry game at Allen Fieldhouse against the No. 9 Jayhawks.