We're going to knock out two birds with one stone here...getting a game recap and game preview in the same breath. First, the recap: The Kansas State Wildcats (4-0) did exactly what they needed to against the Missouri Tigers (2-2), jumping out front and steadily pulling away for a 24-point win in the semifinal round of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Mizzou was largely an unknown coming into this game, having played decently in three games so far this season. They have quite a few contributing newcomers, similar to K-State, but clearly haven't integrated them as well into the program to this point. Ultimately, the Cats didn't shoot well from the floor by any definition, but hitting the 3 Keys in our game preview - Play Clean, D Up for 40, and Get Up! - made it a comfortable win nonetheless.
Poor shooting and a willingness to take (and miss) open threes meant K-State and Mizzou matched step for step through the first four minutes, but the Cats would eventually pull away for a 14-7 lead by the under-12 media timeout, keyed by a Dean Wade three assisted by Wesley Iwundu. Wade would make a couple more free throws, and Stephen Hurt followed up with converting an old-fashioned three-point play to head out to 19-7. The game was over at this point, for all intents and purposes. K-State threw a solid defense at Mizzou, to which they had no answer, committing many live-ball turnovers and missing shot after shot themselves. The Cats would finish out the rest of the half allowing the Tigers to only tally 7 more points, heading into the locker room up 31-14.
Second half was a much cleaner 20 minutes from an efficiency standpoint, but neither team lit it up. A couple of free throws by Wes and another three - this one by Stephen Hurt (which is apparently not in the scouting report that ESPN has) - put the Cats up by 22 early in the half, and both teams essentially traded buckets the rest of the way. K-State stretched the lead out to as many as 27 by the under-4 media timeout, with Justin Edwards dunking on a fast break immediately followed by Wade flushing a putback the next possession. Eventually, the Wildcats put it in coast mode, and even got some playing time for all players on the bench.
The Cats started with the predicted Stokes/Edwards/Iwundu/Wade/Hurt lineup, and Carlbe Ervin II had a notable contribution off the bench.
We knew that if we attacked the bucket, we would find our way to the line. Even despite a downright terrible shooting performance from the floor (36.8%, lowest of the season), the guys collectively shot FTs well, hitting on 20 of 26 for nearly 77%.
Player Of The Game: Dean Wade
Well, it took four games. Freshman Dean Wade said he "was nervous" leading up to this game, but came out and played well tip to horn, putting up a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards. Oh, and he had an assist, 2 steals, a blocked shot, and committed zero fouls and zero turnovers. He's learning, too - after getting a putback layup blocked in the first half, he grabbed an offensive rebound and dunked it in the second half. He's also showing his range as our best three-point shooter, after going 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Tigger Of The Game: Justin Edwards
Note: Since HC Bruce Weber noted there are "a lot of Tiggers on this team," we're going to find that player that had an high-flying offensive play, stonewall defensive play, or a notable performance, and call them out here.
Edwards was playing harassing defense all night, where he came up with 2 steals, one of which led to a run-out dunk in the second half. He put up 13 points, and also added 2 assists and a rebound.
By the way, did you know Edwards sat out all of last year? Yeah, neither did I.
Other Notable Performances
Wesley Iwundu had another stat-stuffer night: 10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists. Ballin', doing what needs to be done.
Stephen Hurt - The Big Fella - found 8 points and 4 rebounds, and clearly has a scouting report that alters from reality.
Carlbe Ervin had his best game of the season, coming up with 6 points, 3 boards and 2 assists.
Mizzou's freshman Kevin Puryear came in averaging nearly a double-double, and walked out with 9 points and 3 boards.
1. 3 Keys To Victory
Let's check in:
- Play clean: K-State committed 12 fouls, only 8 turnovers, and only put Mizzou on the line 10 times. CHECK
- Get up: K-State came out with an appropriate level of enthusiasm, and sustained it for the full game. Inspired defense and solid rebounding from the opening tip. No lethargic play on either end of the floor. CHECK
- D up for 40: Forced 13 Mizzou turnovers, allowed only 10 assists, allowed only 8 offensive rebounds, swatted 3 shots, and held the Tigers to under 20% FG in the first half and just a hair over 30% FG for the game. CHECK
That, my friends, is how you win a game by 24 while shooting under 37% yourself.
2. Offensive. Rebounding.
These guys are not more athletic than other teams, they just have a work ethic and a nose for the ball. Every shot: 4 guys are crashing the boards, and find a way to get their hands on the ball, either solidly securing it, or getting a tap out to the safety at the half-court line. Its a level of effort you just didn't collectively see from K-State last year.
Know Your Opponent
The North Carolina Tar Heels (#9 AP, 4-1) will be up next for the Cats on Tuesday. North Carolina runs a mix of man and zone defense, and has a high-efficiency motion offense. The Tar Heels just took down Northwestern 80-69 in the second game of the evening.
These guys are pretty darn good at everything. If they have a weak spot, they don't shoot free throws particularly well, and are missing pre-season All-American first teamer Marcus Paige from their lineup. North Carolina runs up and down the floor - they're 40th in the country in adjusted tempo, #5 in adjusted offensive efficiency, and #25 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Strangely enough, they're one of the quickest-possession teams on offense (#10), but one of the slowest-possession teams on defense (#340).
Keep a close watch on:
Well, let's talk about sophomore forward Justin Jackson for a minute. The 6-8 Jackson just put up 21 and 13, with 4 assists, against Northwestern. While being a relatively minor factor in UNC's wins over Temple, Fairfield and Wofford, Jackson has now registered two straight 20+ point games. He's going to be a beast on the inside for our frontcourt.
Senior forward Brice Johnson is a double-digit scorer for three seasons now, and is averaging a double-double at 14.5ppg, 10.3rpg.
Sophomore Theo Pinson is running the show out top, averaging 5.5ppg, 5.3apg, 5.0rpg. Junior forward Isaiah Hicks comes in off the bench with a solid contribution in the scoring column as well as on the glass.
So, uptempo is the name of the game for UNC. They definitely want to get the game sped up. Once they get the ball into the front court, they're not shooting many threes, averaging only 12 attempts per game (one of lowest ratios of 3PA/FGA in the country), and that is really relegated to only three players. They want to pound the ball inside and get shots at the rim. A saggy man - or even a 2-3 zone - may be effective against the Tar Heels to slow down the attack, but ultimately, the game pace will be dictated by how efficient our offense is, not turning the ball over and grabbing some offensive boards.
Defensively, expect to see both bouts of zone and man from UNC. If I were head coach Roy Williams, I'd set up in a 2-3, talk about where Dean Wade is, and let anyone else fire away. They're not going to force a ton of turnovers, but they're going to make shots tough to find, especially inside. K-State is going to have to get creative to stretch the bigs out (which is why Wade and Hurt shooting the outside shot is important...#scoutingreport); if we can get Jackson and Johnson away from the rim, slashers like Iwundu and Edwards can start to find some interior success.
F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7 210 Jr
F Dean Wade, 6-10 225 Fr
F Stephen Hurt, 6-11 265 Sr
G Justin Edwards, 6-4 200 Sr
G Kamau Stokes, 6-0 170 Fr
North Carolina Tar Heels:
F Kennedy Meeks, 6-10 260 Jr
F Brice Johnson, 6-10 230 Sr
F Justin Jackson, 6-8 200 So
G Theo Pinson, 6-6 205 So
G Joel Berry II, 6-0 195 So
3 Keys To The Game
1. Play loose
This is a measuring stick game. For sleepwalking against a very game UNI squad this past weekend, UNC is absolutely one of the best teams in the country. I would argue they fell too far (to #9) after the loss, considering they still don't have their best player on the floor. Come out ready to play, but loose and fluid will get some shots to fall and give us a chance.
2. Effort and ethic
The effort portions of the game - defense, rebounding - will need to be on point. We need to battle on the boards to give ourselves as many second chances as possible, and whole team defense will be critical against a team that will clearly be bigger and more athletic than we are, on average. Creating turnovers, while not coughing the ball up ourselves, is extremely important. But effort will only do so much...
3. Make shots
We don't have to light the nets on fire to win. But we do have to make more than 40% of our shots, and approaching 40% from beyond the arc will be necessary as well. UNI's formula didn't have anything to do with shooting markedly better than UNC - they got a handful of steals, took care of the ball, made a few more threes than the Tar Heels, and got to the line more than they did.
All stats by http://www.kenpom.com, or by the respective university's sports information.