There was no hangover apparent for the Big 12-leading Red Raiders.
Tech came out hot, and opened the game with a 15-2 run, and had it up to 24-6 before the Wildcats figured out there was a basketball game being played. K-State rallied enough to close the gap to eight points before the intermission, but it wasn’t easy. Starting point guard Kamau Stokes played just 15 minutes, all in the first half, before being benched in favor of freshman Cartier Diarra.
It was much more even to start the second half, as the Cats managed to keep the score within 8-12 points before a mid-half burst from Tech, while Dean Wade was resting on the bench, put the score back out beyond manageable. The 16 point final margin wasn’t the biggest of the game for Tech, but it was lower than their largest lead of 18 in the second half. The Cats actually won the second half 36-34, but the first half margin was just too much to overcome.
What We Learned
- Even though Dean Wade played only 24 minutes thanks to foul trouble, he’s still the player this team needs to flow through. He was the second-leading scorer with 14 points, and the leading rebounded with 5.
- Barry Brown can still light up the score board. Brown was the second leading scorer in the game — Tech’s Keenan Evans led all scorers with 27 — but his 24 points are starting to feel more like the norm than an abberation. While he won’t break 20 every night, he’s a near lock for double-digit scoring outputs regardless of opponent.
Bruce Weber made a good coaching decision. Kamau Stokes played poorly all game against West Virginia, and opened today’s game with more of the same. After 15 sloppy minutes, Weber sat Stokes for the rest of the game, and the team was better for it. Cartier Diarra played a career-high 30 minutes, and was the last Wildcat in double-figures with 11 points.
This team still needs work. We were concerned that the soft non-con was not enough to grind the rough edges off this team, and the blow-out win over Iowa State kept enough lipstick on to keep us interested for a while longer. But the tough loss to West Virginia, and this blow-out loss to a quality Texas Tech team — lets not take anything away from Tech, they played a dominant first half — are creating the kind of negative answers that many were worried about heading in to the conference slate. There is still plenty of time to turn things around, and the Big 12 still feels wide open, but this Wildcat squad still has a lot of work to do to be consistently competitive the rest of the way.
The Wildcats return home to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Wednesday, January 10th at 7 pm. The Cowboys were picked to finish last in the Big 12 but are off to similar season as K-State, and are sitting at 11-4, 1-3 after winning their first Big 12 game of the season, taking down last-place Iowa State 96-87 in overtime. If there is an “easy” game left in the first half the Wildcats schedule, this is it.
**Editor’s note: Kamau Stokes left the game with an injury and did not return. It was not Weber’s decision to sit Kamau, rather Stokes was forced out of the game.