The Kansas State Wildcats (5-1) took on the George Washington Colonials (2-4) in the third-place game of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Colonials recently put up a game fight against Xavier on Thanksgiving Day, after finally succumbing to the better Musketeers by 19.
Looking at this matchup, and factoring in our near-miss with ASU (who throttled Xavier earlier in the day for the LVI Championship) and GW’s schedule so far, it was reasonable to assume K-State would run away with this one. Man, I love the transitive property of sports.
A relatively average game for the Wildcats; K-State essentially led tip to horn, save for an early GW 1-0 lead. Also a relatively average game for the Wildcats; K-State allowed a clearly inferior team to hang around through the entirety of the game. What felt like a 20 point game was only a 9-point advantage at the half, and after the Cats stretched it out to 15 with a handful of stops and a 14-3 run some timely buckets from Dean Wade and Barry Brown, Jr.
Then K-State’s defense went completely uninspired, conjuring up the soft midfield pass coverage of a Tom Hayes defense, and allowed GW to go on a run of their own to trim the lead all the way to 2 at 56-54 with 5:05 left in the ballgame. The Wildcats responded with some solid work at both ends by Dean, some clutch free throws from Barry, and eventually put it away for good.
Player of the Game: Dean Wade
The Dean was much more assertive in trying to score the basketball tonight, finishing with 17 points on 6-10 shooting (0-2 3PFG), 5-5 FT, and had a near-double-double with 9 boards, 1 AST, 1 STL, and 2 BLKs.
Mr. Wade worked masterfully on the block when given the opportunities, came up with a couple of important rebounds, and played pretty solid defense against an offense geared to find matchup issues due to switching defenders.
Player Notable Notes:
Kamau Stokes finished with a team-high 19 points on 6-11 (3-5), 4-4 from the stripe, with 2 AST and 2 STL. His AST/TO ratio is not where it needs to be for this team to have its highest levels of success.
Microwave had 15 points on 5-11 (0-2), 4-6 from the line, and 2 REB, 3 AST and 1 STL. Big free throws at the end of the game to help put it away.
Makol Mawien managed 8 points (4-5), with 5 REB and 2 BLK. Mawien struggled at times with helpside defense.
Arnado (Benecio del) Toro from the Colonials had a game-high 21 points and 9 REB, finding a number of second-chance opportunities and a couple open threes that were, frankly, given to him.
GW’s other starting post Patrick Steeves finished with 11 and 5.
Three In The Key:
- Our offensive scheme works. Still. I’m putting this one right here and nipping it in the bud. Just as our offensive scheme yielded a multitude of 3PFG attempts yesterday, that same offensive scheme yielded only 17 threes hoisted (and a notable few of them bad ideas), and much more dribble penetration from the perimeter, as well as some solid block work by Wade/Mawien/Sneed. What changed? The defense. The offensive attack - which is split into three or so different configurations to keep things fresh - is made to do just that. Find what the defense gives you, and leverage that. Some nights that will be a bunch of long jumpers, some nights that will be a bunch of shots at the rim.
- My kingdom for a rebound. Our rebounding was pathetic tonight. It really hadn’t been much of a glaring weakness yet - even against ASU - but tonight, the effort on clearing the glass was very inconsistent and lackadaisical. Too much standing around instead of doing the work to put butts on people. As a result, the Cats were outrebounded 37-26, giving up 16 offensive rebounds. The defense came through even so, only giving up 9 second chance points on those 16 boards.
- Defense. This team needs to keep its edge honed on the defensive end of the floor, or things start to snowball a bit. The five minute stretch that the Colonials dropped the lead from 15 to 2 was rooted in a pretty soft defensive effort. K-State is going to need to bring defensive intensity for a full 40 minutes every night to win games in the Big 12. We also saw the posts need some work on rotating to cut off the dribble-drive. Many slow rotations led to layups or easy kickouts for GW. GW had a hard time scoring in general (40% from the floor, 29% from 3), but many of the looks they got were just way too easy.
Before We Go:
Games at casinos.
Really, really different environment.
First, I’ll commend #EMAW for traveling better than any of the other schools in the tournament - there were more K-Staters there than any other university fan base.
However, it was comical listening to some of the attendees around us. I won’t call them fans, because they weren’t. They were there solely to bet on the games. Didn’t have a dog in the fight, so to speak, aside from their marks. I have no idea what the game opened at, but it was bet up to 15 by tipoff. So there were more than a few voices expressing displeasure in the final 9-point margin.
That’s not what college basketball is about.
But, LOL. These people are actually betting real, actual money on our beloved Cats. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned watching this team in great detail the past several years:
Don’t bet on K-State to cover a spread. Ever.
K-State takes on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles this coming Wednesday (11/29), back in the Octagon of Doom. Tipoff scheduled for 7:00pm.