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K-State Hoops Recap - Texas A&M 78, K-State 68

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Too many, too long of periods of ineffectiveness on both ends of the floor overwhelm a scrappy effort by the Cats.

The Aggies swarmed on the Wildcats, forcing 16 turnovers.
The Aggies swarmed on the Wildcats, forcing 16 turnovers.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

There's clearly some learning, some growth yet to happen. The Kansas State Wildcats (7-2) drop one they might be lamenting at the end of the season, falling to the Texas A&M Aggies (8-2) with a 10-point deficit, 78-68. It hurts to not take advantage of that kind of opportunity - a top-50 team on the road - as good non-conference win opportunities are just about over with for the season.

K-State jumped out to a 2-0 lead, which A&M quickly answered, and the Cats could never manage to take the lead again.  Right out of the gate, it was clear that the length and athleticism of the Aggies was a nuisance to the Wildcats, coughing up 8 turnovers - 5 steals - in the first half alone. K-State was regularly outsized in the frontcourt, so weren't really able to get anything going inside-out. The Cats then had to rely on perimeter ball movement to attack, and found the ball sticking at times, and lazy long passes at others. Mental lapses leading to a Aggie double-digit lead, then closed back down by some solid play by K-State, was a repetitive theme throughout the entire night. The Aggies would stretch out to a seven-point lead, which was quickly answered by a handful of threes to tie it up at the under-8 timeout. Coming out of that timeout, the Aggies put together a 10-0 run, which K-State was able to answer slightly, closing the game back to a 35-29 split at half.

The second half was more of the first. Stretches of lackadaisical play, followed by stretches of brilliance, kept the game bouncing around, but within reach. The Cats played their way to a 1-point deficit, which A&M answered back with a 21-3 run that essentially dug a hole too deep for K-State to climb out of. But they tried nonetheless. Behind Wesley Iwundu, playing in front of friends and family, put the team on his back and started clawing back. Punctuating the comeback attempt with a vicious dunk on the break, K-State closed it to five, 71-66, with 1:06 left. After a K-State timeout, the Aggies scored six straight to put the game out of reach and ensure their home win.

K-State could periodically find a rhythm and score in bunches, but credit the Aggies for playing tough for 40 minutes. Notably, Dean Wade was apparently playing despite illness, so not having his full presence was certainly a tough rung to climb on the ladder.

Stats, STAT:

16, 11.

The Wildcats coughed up the ball 16 times - 8 in each half - including a ridiculous 11 steals. Anyone that notices trends knows that I despise giving up steals. They're indications of laziness, lack of effort, and general carelessness. Throwing the ball out of bounds, or traveling violations, or whatever kind of deadball turnovers give your defense a chance to set up. Steals give the other team runouts and layups.

16.

Similar to the Georgia game, K-State snared 16 offensive rebounds, continuing their prowess on finding additional possessions in the game. Offensive rebounding gave us a chance to stay in the game on a night where nothing really clicked well on a consistent basis. We managed to win the rebounding margin by 2.

50.0%.

The Aggies hit 7-14 from long range, including 2 of 2 from A&M's Jalen Jones, who came into the game 2-10 for the season.

Player Of The Game: Wesley Iwundu

Wes played in front of friends and family tonight, and wanted to play well. After a generally poor first half, Wes took over - maybe too late - in the second half, and finished with 23 points on 9-15 shooting (1-3 3PFG), 4-6 FT, with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, but a painful 4 turnovers. Wes played a game-high 37 minutes.

Tigger Of The Game: DJ Johnson

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.

DJ was huge for us in trying to provide some level of credibility in the paint tonight. He played a career-high 26 minutes, compiling 14 points on 6-7 shooting, 2-2 FT, and added 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Other Notable Performances

Kamau Stokes found a couple of buckets, finishing with 9 points, 6 boards, 3 assists.

The Big Fella hit a couple of step-out mid-rangers, coming up with 6 points, 6 boards, 3 assists and a steal.

Justin Edwards had an off night, rimming a dunk attempt early, getting his knee tweaked by Wes falling into him, and aside from hitting back-to-back threes, not really ever finding any rhythm on either end of the floor. Edwards scored 8 on 2-12 shooting (2-7 3PFG), and added 4 boards and 3 assists.

Texas A&M's Jalen Jones - coming off the bench - had a night. Dunks and threes, the 6-7 senior finished with 25 points, 9 boards, and hit both of his three point attempts after shooting 20% on the season.

Alex Caruso finished with 13 points on 4-5 shooting (2-3 3PFG), 9 assists, 3 rebounds and a ridiculous 6 steals. Looking back at last year's game in Bramlage, Caruso was just as much of a pain in the ass then, coming up with 10 points, 6 assists, 6 boards, and 3 steals.

Big Thoughts:

1. Ball security.

Was. Atrocious.

11 steals is pathetic.

That is all.

2. Ball movement.

It seemed for much of the game, we were either a) turning the ball over, or b) not passing the ball. Our interior ball movement left a bit to be desired, but there were stretches - easily identified by the plays where we shot a guarded three with a second left on the shot clock - where the ball would stick too much. Especially against the zone that A&M threw at us at times, moving the ball from side to side is imperative. The times we did move the ball well, we found some success and open looks.

3. We're not there yet.

Texas A&M has the makeup to be a very good team. Solid outside shooting, big, athletic, and they play hard. It's really hard to defend both well. We've got the tools to be competitive against teams like that, but execution cannot falter as much as it did tonight. We've got to win little things. Turnover battle. Rebounding battle. Free-throw line.

We're going to see that nearly every night in conference play.

Next Up:

#EMAW plays a "semi-home" game, taking on another decent squad in Colorado State next Saturday in Wichita.