As it seems the Kansas State Wildcats are wont to do, a tough-to-swallow loss to the hands of our rivals downriver leads into a multi-game losing strea...
K-State (13-5, 3-3) followed up Saturday’s loss with a resounding win, taking the #4/#6 Oklahoma Sooners down in convincing fashion, 87-69.
Much of the discussion leading into the game included how the good guys in purple would respond after the loss and the subsequent...ahem...comments by Coach Bruce Weber, but primarily centered on just how K-State would handle the phenom that is freshman Trae Young, who was coming into the game with an NCAA-leading 30ppg and 10apg.
What the packed house was treated to was maybe a blueprint on exactly how to handle Trae Young. Barry Brown drew the assignment, and made Young’s life a living hell for his 34 minutes of court time. Oklahoma came out of the gate launching from downtown, putting up 17 three-balls in the first half alone, but a consistent outside pressure by the Cats allowed only four to connect. After OU jumped out to a quick 5-2 lead, K-State started converting steals to dunks, and by the time we made it to the under-12 media in the first half, K-State owned a 23-9 lead, and Bramlage was rockin’.
Oklahoma didn’t get a really small number in front of their name for no reason, though. Young started to settle down a bit, and OU hit three of their four first-half threes to actually retake the lead at 33-32 with just under two to go. However, in complete opposite fashion from Saturday, K-State put the hammer down just before half, with Cartier Diarra hitting a three assisted by Dean Wade, then literally 24 seconds later, Wade hitting a three assisted by none other than Diarra to take a 38-33 advantage into the locker room.
That was as close as the game would be the rest of the way. Xavier Sneed got the second half started off right with a three on the opening possession, and K-State started to steadily pull away.
Oklahoma - the team that came in averaging 93.6ppg - started to look tired and ragged defensively. After an alley-oop from Diarra to X stretched the lead to 12 with 10:41 remaining, Dean absolutely took the game over. Outside, inside, mid-range, post...didn’t matter. That bucket was the size of a swimming pool for Wade for most of the night. A two-minute stretch was Wade pour in 6 and assist on another to Makol Mawien, punctuated by a back-door alley-oop from Cartier yet again to put the Cats up 16. Diarra happily started nailing that coffin closed, coming up with two strong, slashing layups against a gashed OU defense and a couple of FTs for good measure. The lead stayed at 16 until HCBW called a sub timeout to get benchers some PT...and Mike McGuirl proceeded to run right by the OU defense for a layup with K-State’s final possession winding down.
[cue] Storm The Stands
Player of the Game: Barry Brown
The talk pre-game...and through much of the game...was about Trae Young. Sorry, ESPN, but Microwave was the best player on the floor tonight. Young came into the game averaging about 4.5 TOpg, but Barry’s defense hounded him into 12 (Yes, twelve. TWELVE!) turnovers, while limiting him to 20pts, 10 below his season average, and picked up 3 steals.
Oh, and he dabbled around on the offensive end, too. Hows 24 points on 10-17 shooting, 4-4 FTs, 2 REB, 5 AST and only 1 TO sound? Sounds like a Player Of The Game to me.
Player Notable Notes:
Dean Wade came in runner-up in the PotG voting. He finished with 21 PTS on 9-16 shooting (3-3 from beyond the arc), 7 boards, 7 assists, and 2 steals. OU just had no answer for The Dean.
X hit some big threes and the bring-the-house-down ‘oop from Diarra, finishing with a solid stat line of 13 PTS on 4-7 shooting (3-5 from downtown), 2-2 from the line, with 5 boards, 2 steals and a blocked shot.
So, we gotta find a new nickname for Diarra. I tried to get Sideshow going - just because of his hair, to be honest - but this dude ain’t no sideshow. He had a case of the turnover in the first half (finished with 4), but he added 16 PTS on 6-8 shooting, 2 boards, 5 assists, and 2 steals. Cartier can shoot the three, he can get to the rack, and more importantly, he can finish when he gets there. Come on, EMAW - let’s get him a name!
Trae Young did finish with 20 - his second lowest output of the season (behind 15 points in his collegiate debut), but it took him 21 shots to do it, and he had the aforementioned 12 cough-ups to his 6 assists. Fellow frosh Brady Manek tallied 12 PTS/4 REB, and Rashard Odomes had a relatively efficient 16 points on 7-10 shooting with 6 boards to go with it.
Three In The Key:
- A blueprint to mitigate OU’s Young? Before the game (if you listen to our podcast...hint, hint), I thought the key to even attempting to neutralize Trae Young would be to try to make him take guarded shots, but more importantly, take advantage of his turnovers. Because he has the ball in his hands so much, and OU really relies on him to make plays, he’s prone to turnovers. K-State would need to score off those turnovers. Young got very few open looks, and hounded OU to 20 turnovers, scoring 19 points off those turnovers.
- K-State made their open shots. The Cats finished going 56.5% from the floor, including a 9-17 clip from beyond the arc (52.9%), and a perfect 8-8 from the line. The second half was insane: K-State scored 49 points on 26 shots...a ridiculous 1.45 PPP (Points Per Possession), for an even more ridiculous 82.7% eFG rate. K-State physically dominated the Sooners defensively for 40 minutes, and by the time the second half rolled around, the Cats could basically find open shots all over the place. When this team can pour in buckets like that, combined with the defense...it’s game over.
- If rebounding is going to be poor, we have to be special in other places. K-State got crushed on the glass tonight, losing the rebounding battle 37-26, and giving up 16 offensive boards. If that is going to continue - and by all indicators, it will - we’ve really got to be harassing on defense and efficient on offense. We nailed both of those tonight. Beyond just Barry’s work on Young, the K-State defense swarmed the outside shooters of OU pretty well. While the Sooners got their looks, the Wildcat pressure forced them to frequently release the ball quicker than usual - quick-shots, if you will - in order to get them off. Especially from behind the arc, where OU finished 7-25 (28%). Offensively - K-State looked as good as it probably could have. Of course, a good balance of shot selection combined with converting steals into layups and dunks helps with that.
Before We Go:
OU’s Khadeem Lattin.
The senior post, when he was a sophomore, seemed to me like he was primed to be a legit force in the Big 12. Motor, athleticism, size...he had it going the right direction. Makes a 3ppg, 1rpg jump his junior year to 8.4/6.3, and he just seems to be treading water in this, his senior year, at 8.0/6.8. On some level, I expected him to develop into a 17 and 9 guy. he had 2 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 blocked shot, while committing 4 fouls, against a K-State team that just doesn’t have a consistent, legitimate post presence.
I mean, for our sake, I’m glad he hasn’t...but still, as a basketball fan, it’s kinda disappointing.
K-State has its second of a three-game homestand against Jamie Dixon’s TCU Horned Frogs this coming Saturday (1/20), back in the Octagon of Doom. It’s Wildcats and Horny Toads at 3:00pm.