The zone did it again. The Kansas State Wildcats fell asleep at the wheel in the first half for almost 8 minutes, and couldn't muster the offense needed against the 2-3 zone to recover fully, losing to the Iowa State Cyclones 76-63.
The 13 point loss is the worst at home since an 18-point loss to Baylor in Bramlage during the 2008-2009 season.
Iowa State came out primed from the gun. While some early misses gave K-State a bit of hope, the game was really decided in a 7:38 stretch - from 12:30 to 4:52 in the first half - where the Cyclones strung together a 15-0 run to stretch a two-point lead out to 26-9. During that run, ISU got almost any shot they wanted, whether it was an open three or a layup, as K-State struggled to score points on offense against the 2-3 zone, and couldn't have kept a YMCA pick-up team out of the paint. The "never quit" attitude showed up, as the Wildcats fought back behind Kamau Stokes and Justin Edwards, cutting the 17-point gap to 7 before a well-defended Monte Morris jumper at the buzzer sent K-State into the break down 9.
More of the same from both teams in the second half led to basically treading water for the entire second 20 minutes. Justin Edwards and Wesley Iwundu both got going a bit to keep K-State within striking distance, but the Wildcats would never bring it closer than a 7-point deficit. By the time K-State would figure out how to play against the zone, it was too late - too much Georges Niang, too much drive and kick by Monte Morris, and Iowa State was scoring the ball too easily to be slowed down.
Iowa State knows how to score the basketball, and often at that. For as porous as the K-State defense looked for most of the game, the 76 points scored by Iowa State is the least since their season-opening win against Colorado (68).
K-State continued their frigid outside shooting, going 4-21 from beyond the arc. They were consistent, though, going 2-11 in the first half, followed by a 2-10 performance in the second.
Barry Brown - who is leading the team in scoring through 5 conference games - was a key focus of the Iowa State defense. The Cyclones limited Microwave to 4 points, going 1-10 from the floor.
Mentioned above. This stat was pretty much the story of the game: going from down 2 at 11-9, to down 17 at 26-9, through the middle of the first half was all she wrote. You simply can't give a team that scores the ball effectively that much of a cushion, especially when you know you can't keep up with them.
Player Of The Game: Justin Edwards
Justin had a relatively quiet first half, but came alive in the second trying to keep K-State within striking distance. Edwards finished with 19 points (6-12 FG, 2-4 3P, 5-6 FT), and compiled 7 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 32 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 took a great feed and flushed one home two-handed to snap the 15-0 run by the Cyclones in the first half, so he gets the nod for Tigger. He put up 7 points (3-4 FG, 1-2 FT), added 4 boards and a blocked shot in 23 minutes.
Other Notable Performances
Wesley Iwundu had a game that tracked very similarly to Edwards. His 11 points and 9 boards kept the game right at arm's length in the second half.
Kamau Stokes scored 10 points (3-9 FG, 2-8 3PFG, 2-2 FT), but otherwise had a poor night, coming up with only one rebound, only one assist, but 3 turnovers and 3 fouls.
Barry Brown was just off. His 4 points came on 1-10 shooting (0-4 3P, 2-2 FT), but had 3 rebounds and a career-high 6 assists, justifying his 26 minutes.
DJ Johnson provided an interior spark off the bench, logging 21 minutes and putting up 7 points and 6 rebounds. His 3-of-4 effort from the free throw line is above his season average of 51% from the line.
Iowa State's Georges Niang was held in check until late in the game, where he scored 10 points in the final several minutes to finish with 15 and 6. Monte Morris had a solid game, though, getting into the paint whenever he wanted. Morris put up 19 on 6-9 shooting, and added 4 boards and 4 assists.
1. Bruce let that run go on entirely too long in the first half.
For crying out loud, man - call a timeout when your team hasn't found a good look on offense in 3-4 minutes. DON'T WAIT ALMOST EIGHT. It was obvious to almost everyone with at least one good eye that we were stuck and not effective.
[I wrote the rest of this recap, and came back to this...]
BRUCE. YOU - YES, YOU! - YOU LET A ROAD TEAM GO ON A 15-0 RUN IN OUR HOUSE. I'M PINNING THIS ONE ON YOU.
WHAT THE HELL, MAN?
2. Help defense was below-average at best in the first half.
Sometimes you're going to play those players that have an easy time attacking the paint. But help has to come early, every time. I would rather us give up a dump-off and layup, then give up the layup without making them pass the ball. Really poor defense throughout the first half from K-State.
3. I'm lost for explanation on offensive execution.
When we actually execute the offense against the zone, we usually find a bucket, or at least a good attempt (which is all you can demand, really). Same thing with our ball-screen offense against man. I'm at the stage where I really can offer no explanation as to why we go for stretches where we don't execute the offense for 40 minutes. It's some combination of BBIQ, coaching, and focus in a concoction nobody can deduce at this point.
#EMAW travels to Waco this week, to face the (22) Baylor Bears, on Wednesday, January 20 (715p CST).