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Kansas State vs The University of California at Irvine - Preview

Drew takes a look at the Wildcat’s first round match up with advanced stats and video clips.

Southern Mississippi v Kansas State Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Where: San Jose, California

When: Friday, March 22, 2019


University of California at Irvine Anteaters

Seed: 13

Record: 30-5

Big West Record: 15-1

Current Form: Big West Tournament Champions - 15 game winning streak

Head Coach:

Projected Starting Lineup

PG - #3 - Sr - Robert Cartwright - 6’2, 180 - 6.8 PPG, 2.3 AST, 1.1 STL
SG - #2 - Jr - Max Hazzard - 6’0, 170 - 12.5 PPG, 2.2 AST, 39 3PT%
SF/SG - #14 - Jr - Evan Leonard - 6’1, 185 - 11.1 PPG, 2.5 REB, 40.9 3PT%
PF - #42 - Jr - Tommy Rutherford - 6’8, 240 - 6.8 PPG, 4.4 REB
C - #5 - Sr - Jonathan Galloway - 6’10, 235 - 7 PPG, 8 REB, 1.1 BLK

Key Reserves

PF - #40- Fr - Collin Welp - 6’9, 215 - 16.1 Minutes Per Game, 8.9 PPG, 4.4 REB
SF/G - #0 - FR - J.C. Butler - 6’5, 200 - 8.4 MPG, 1.5 PPG, 1.3 REB
C - #50 - Sr - Elston Jones - 6’9, 260 - 19.6 - 19.6 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 6.8 REB
PG/SG/SF - #25 - Sr - Spencer Rivers - 6’2, 200 - 9.4 MPG, 1.4 PPG

Injured (Questionable)

PG/SG/SF - #24 - Jr - Eyassu Worku - 6’2, 175 - 24.7 MPG - 7.5 PPG, 2.8 AST

Suspended (Indefinite)

SF/F - #11 - Jr - John Edgar Jr - 6’5, 217 - 20.1 MPG - 6.4 PPG, 3 REB

Advanced Statistics Comparison (KenPom)

Kenpom Ranking

UC Irvine - 74
Kansas State - 23

Adjusted Tempo

UC Irvine - 65 (296 Nationally)
Kansas State - 63 (342)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

UC Irvine - 106.7 (127)
Kansas State - 108 (103)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

UC Irvine - 97.2 (58)
Kansas State - 87.8 (4)

Offensive Turnover Percentage

UC Irvine - 17.2 (80)
Kansas State - 17.4 (97)

Defensive Turnover Percentage

UC Irvine - 16.7 (289)
Kansas State - 22.9 (13)

Effective Field Goal Percentage - Offense

UC Irvine - 51.4 (138)
Kansas State - 49.5 (231)

Effective Field Goal Percentage - Defense

UC Irvine - 43.7 (5)
Kansas State - 48.1 (51)

Offensive Rebounding Percentage

UC Irvine - 33.6 (31)
Kansas State - 28.3 (181)

Offensive Rebounding Percentage Allowed

UC Irvine - 26.6 (100)
Kansas State - 25.6 (62)

Offensive 3 Point Percentage

UC Irvine - 36 (95)
Kansas State - 33.6 (216)

Defensive 3 Point Percentage Allowed

UC Irvine - 33.3 (113)
Kansas State - 31.2 (30)

Offensive 2 Point Percentage

UC Irvine - 50.3 (180)
Kansas State - 49 (225)

Defensive 2 Point Percentage

UC Irvine - 40.6 (1)
Kansas State - 49.1 (128)

Free Throw Percentage

UC Irvine - 70 (193)
Kansas State - 66.4 (318)

Block Percentage Offense

UC Irvine - 6.8 (16)
Kansas State - 8.4 (102)

Block Percentage Defense

UC Irvine - 10.9 (101)
Kansas State - 7.8 (238)

Steal Percentage Offense

UC Irvine - 7.6 (37)
Kansas State - 9.5 (253)

Steal Percentage Defense

UC Irvine - 8.2 (232)
Kansas State - 11.7 (18)


Basic Set: 2 In 3 Out

UC Irvine likes to keep their two big men inside the lane, and surround the perimeter with shooters. They are an inside out team, and will look to feed the post on most possessions.

Feeding the Post

UCI runs a balanced attack. They will attack from the perimeter and feed the post. This is one of their basic sets used to attack the post.

It starts with the point guard in the middle of the floor, and the big they are not trying to get the ball to setting a high ball screen.

The point guard comes off looking for the potential pick and roll. The player setting the high ball screen always rolls to the weak side of the lane, away from the big man posting on the block. If the screen and roll isn’t available the point guard looks to the strong side wing.

The strong side wing is responsible for the entry pass. On this possession he kicks it back to the point so he can reset and get a better angle to the post. The point guard moves it right back to the wing, and the wing finds the baseline entry pass.

One the ball enters the post, the strong side wing cuts across the lane to provide a back side shooting option, and to take away the ability of the strong side wing to dig down on the post.

The big man involved in the high ball screen stays baseline and positions himself for the offensive rebound while the post player with the ball goes to work one on one.

Beating the Double Team

Doubling down on the post may seem like an interesting proposition, but UCI has a team of veteran guards that know how to move the ball. If your rotations aren’t perfect, they will skip the ball to the weak side and bomb away from deep.

On this set, they start with getting the ball to the their post man at the top of the key. He passes to the wing, and then slips a screen and establishes himself in the post for the wing entry.

The defense double down with their center.

As soon as the double team comes from the center, the UCI center dives hard to the post, causing the weak side defender to rotate down to the center diving to the rim.

This leaves the shooter on the weak side wide open. You’ll notice him standing at the arc with both hands up calling for the ball.

The post player kicks the ball back out to the wing, the wing player skips the ball across to the weak side, and the weak side shooter is ready to catch and fire. The weak side defender does a good job of closing out, but the shooter has been sizing up the 3-pt shot for 10 seconds and drains it.



UCI is one of the best teams in the nation at defending the two point shot. Their man to man defense is predicated on stopping the drive at all costs and then hoping they can close out late or shooters miss open shots.

This is the crux of their defense. When the lane is threatened by a pass or a drive, the entire team sags into the paint.

You’ll notice on this play, the cutter who receives pass draws three defenders.

They are willing to leave shooters wide open. Cal State Fullerton just didn’t have enough shooters to punish them.

The player who makes the initial catch after the kick out it wide open. He swings to to another wide open player who bricks the shot.

This play is a perfectly illustrates what UC Irvine takes away, and what they subsequently give up.

How Kansas State Can Win


Someone is going to have to hit some perimeter shots. The good news is that this is the perfect game for the three-guard lineup:
PG: Kamau Stokes
SG: Barry Brown
SF: Cartier Diarra
PF: Xavier Sneed
C: Makol Mawien

The other good news is that perimeter shots don’t have to be 3’s. I expect Barry to work his mid range jumper to death in this game.

I could also see Sneed going off from the corner, because he will be able to set his feet and fire with UCI determined to stop the drive.


UCI has a balanced attack, making it hard to pick out one guy to stop. If Kansas State can guard them in the paint one on one and stick to their shooters, the Wildcats will win the game.

On the season they shoot 36% from deep.

In the five games they’ve lost this year they have shot the following percentages from behind the 3-pt arc:
Toledo: 21%
Utah State: 7%
Butler: 11%
Pacific: 38%
Long Beach State: 28%

The Pacific game is the only game they lost while shooting a solid percentage from deep. It’s a bit of an outlier, however, because Pacific went 33-43 from the foul line, and managed to knock them off in overtime.

If know everyone is wondering how they beat a Texas A&M team the beat Kansas State. It’s simple really. They shot 43% (9-21) from deep.

How Kansas State Can Lose


This is about as simple as it gets. If Kansas State can’t hit shots, they won’t win this game. I know, that’s a scary proposition, but UCI invites you to hit shots. If you can’t do it, they win.


UCI loves to get their post game going. If the Wildcats can’t stop them one on one in the post, they will struggle. UCI wants you to bring the double team so they can find open shooters.

Sneed in particular is going to be put in a tough spot. Kansas State desperately needs him on the floor, but he’s either going to have to play the 3 and guard one of UCI’s small guards, or he’s going to have to match up at the 4 and take on a significantly larger player in the post.

Personally, I like him at the 4 because I don’t think UCI can match up with him on offense, and I don’t think the UCI 4 will want to follow him out to the corner 3-pt area, giving him ample opportunity to punish them from the outside.

KenPom: Kansas State 62 - UCI 56 (73% Confidence)

Drew: Kansas State 68 - UCI 56


This is all going to come down to Kansas State’s ability to hit the open outside shot. I think that happens enough to pull out the win, because I don’t think UCI is going to be able to handle the Wildcat defense.

Survive and Advance...I’ll see y’all in the second round.