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K-State Men’s Basketball Recap: Texas Tech 77, K-State 63

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Encouraging play by the underclassmen wasn’t enough to buoy the Wildcats against late mistakes and Kyler Edwards’ career night.

NCAA Basketball: Texas Tech at Kansas State
Montavious Murphy attempts to flush one down in traffic.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

It’s somewhat cliche, but I’m sure we’ve all heard it - the “definition” of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. And for the first (and in some perspectives, later than appropriate) time this season, Bruce Weber and the Kansas State Wildcats (7-9, 0-4) decided to not be insane tonight. It almost worked, too, until the #23 Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-5, 2-2) and the #3 Big 12 Referees (15-0, 4-0) proved to be too much, taking down the struggling Cats 77-63.

The Raiders controlled the first half from the opening tip, jumping out to a 10-0 lead and stretching the spread to 15 before a 13-5 run by K-State to close the half made it a seven-point game at intermission.

Bruce Weber’s crew then proceeded to come out of the locker room and continue their first half run and score five more to cut the lead to 37-35 early in the second. Some punching and counterpunching from both teams had K-State take a brief one-point lead, 46-45, mid-way through the second half on limiting Tech to one shot, and spirited interior play by freshman Montavious Murphy. Unfortunately, some key mental lapses on both ends of the floor by upper-classmen and the inability to clear the glass on defense allowed the Red Raiders - specifically Kyler Edwards and Kevin McCullar - to eventually put K-State at arms’ reach just a short four minutes later, then seal the game pushing the lead back to as many as 15 by the end.

The big changes made tonight were on the personnel side of things, though. Freshman Dajuan Gordon got the start in place of Mike McGuirl (noted as “unavailable” for tonight’s contest), and Makol Mawien saw the floor very sparingly despite his 87th consecutive start, with Bruce favoring Levi Stockard and Antonio Gordon at the 5.

K-State Player of the Game: Montavious Murphy

The freshman Murphy played the most minutes of any big on K-State’s roster, putting up a career high 11 points on 1-2 shooting, going 9-9 from the stripe, and snaring a team-high 5 rebounds.

Yeah, 5 rebounds paced the Wildcats tonight.

Regardless, Murphy showed on a more consistent basis how good of a player he may become. His stats weren’t otherworldly, but by and large, he showed more hustle and more competency in the post than this team has shown all season.

Xavier Sneed finished the game with 14 points on 3-8 shooting (1-4 3PFG), 7-9 from the line, and 4 rebounds. A good balance of jump shots and aggressive attacking put X in a good spot to score, but just couldn’t convert at a high rate. Some foul trouble late also saw him in offense/defense substitution patterns.

Cartier Diarra led the team with 19 on 7-11 shooting, including a 7-point outburst in the first half that got the Cats jumpstarted offensively late in the half. But adding only 2 assists to 6 turnovers, including at least one inexcusable nonchalant pass that missed a wide-open Dajuan Gordon in the corner late, and what he did positive on the floor starts to lose its luster. Toss on 3-6 from the line, and some very-late-to-non-existent help rotations on defense that allowed bigs like Murphy and Levi Stockard get beat by Tech’s Edwards, and its just not good enough from a team figurehead and leader.

Texas Tech’s Kyler Edwards put up a career-high 24 on 9-14 from the floor, and three others finished in double-digits.

Statistically, some things stand out:

  • A rare occasion, K-State turned the ball over more than their opponent, 20-16.
  • Texas Tech shot the ball 17 more times than K-State. When both teams shoot exactly 47.2% from the floor, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in statistics or mathematics to deduce who won the game. On a related note, 36 shots just isn’t enough for 40 minutes. Period.
  • K-State shot 34 free throws (to TTU’s 26), making 25, for nearly 74%. Murphy and X accounted for 18 of those attempts and 16 of those makes. Crazy what happens when you attack and play aggressively. Almost like you get rewarded for it or something.
  • The Wildcats were outrebounded by 8. The entirety of the discrepancy was on the offensive glass, where TTU had 14 offensive rebounds to K-State’s 6.

Three In The Key

  • This is literally verbatim what I put in our recap of the FAMU game (the last game recap I authored).

Turnovers. Typically, I take notes watching a game when I know I’ve got a recap like this to peck out. Its helpful to look back and see if a thought ended up being a trend, or just a good or bad play at the time.

I wrote VALUE THE BALL! Seven times.

Seven.

Seven freaking times.

K-State committed 20 turnovers on the evening. Of those, ten were steals by FAMU TTU. The other ten, we were completely in control of, and just didn’t value the ball. We threw lazy, nonsensical passes. We were lackadaisical in handling the ball. We were doing stupid stuff like throwing alleyoop passes in traffic to freshmen. One handed passes. Impossible passes when the easy play was, well, easy. And that doesn’t even consider including bad shots, which are just as much of turnovers as errant passes.

We struggle enough on offense. Giving up our opportunities to score isn’t making the situation any better.

It’s absolutely remarkable that I had to cross out one sentence, and even the stats were identical.

  • Hopefully, a new rotation for the remainder of the year. While Dajuan Gordon was the only change to the starting lineup tonight, we saw much more playing time from the freshmen and David Sloan over Makol Mawien and with the absence of Mike McGuirl. In fact, K-State battled back and took their very brief lead with Dajuan, Cartier, X, Montavious, and Stockard on the floor.

That would be my starting 5 from this point forward, or at least until Antonio Gordon catches up a little to Big 12 play.

Makol Mawien was nearly useless tonight. 0 points (0-2), no stats, 3 fouls, and he probably played 6 minutes. Literally, the only thing positive he “contributed” was “drawing” a technical foul from one of Texas Tech’s players, when the player yelled “AND ONE” after a no-call on a made layup that Mak actually did foul him on. (I’ve seen way worse go unnoticed).

I can’t say that Mike McGuirl’s absence was an issue, especially given his performance in the last couple of games.

What we did get to see is the fact that the newcomers on this team have more fire and more athleticism than the guys that have been starting in front of them. And giving them opportunities to play while having X, Cartier, and [gulp] Levi Stockard on the floor to help guide them along to a certain extent is good for down the road. These guys look like they can figure out how to win games with a little more experience. I don’t know that our normal starting five this season can.

  • My God, the officiating. The epidemic continues, and there’s just no end in sight, is there?

Poor officiating (normally) doesn’t make you lose games, especially by 15. No, we got beat by a nationally-ranked Texas Tech team tonight. Let me be extremely clear about that.

But it sure doesn’t freaking help.

The officials missed two defensive blocking calls tonight, whistling the Cats for offensive fouls on both. Block/charge calls are hard, and they’re frequently in the eye of the beholder. However, humans - we can be rather clever at times, despite much evidence to the contrary. You see, there’s this ingenious little tool that we started using in 2010 to help.

That’s what the damned white arc in the middle of the purple painted lane area means, guys. If the defender’s feet are touching or inside the arc on a driving attempt, it’s automatically a blocking foul. That’s why the curved, 2-inch-wide white line is there.

Automatically.

AUTO. MATIC. ALLY.

/sigh

IT’S NOT UP FOR DEBATE.

Apparently we can go ahead and paint those lines purple in Bramlage, because they don’t matter. Maybe a big ACME eraser will do the trick.

At one point in the first half, nice-guy squeaky-toy Bruce Weber picked up a rare technical foul. He deserved it. He should have got more. And if I made seven figures a year to coach this team and watched this garbage officiating night in, night out, I’d pay my own fines for what’s coming out of my mouth after the game.

An official under the basket blatantly missed a reach/push on a Texas Tech player at the free-throw line in a wide-open spread floor. The ball then got kicked out to Antonio Gordon who drove the baseline to the basket, and a collision occurred below the right block; AG was whistled for a charge. Replay clearly - not arguably, but clearly - showed BOTH DEFENDERS that were there were inside the arc. Two easy calls on the play were both blown. So yeah, I would have been watching the second half from the locker room.

Later in the game - K-State’s last chance to mount a comeback - David Sloan got a crease and drove to the middle of the lane. He goes up for a teardrop floater, bumps into the defender, and the defender just...falls over. TWEET! Charge. Not only was there hardly any contact - certainly not enough to knock anyone over - again, the defender was clearly inside the arc. That was pretty much the final nail in the coffin for tonight.

While were at it, let’s just ignore traveling. Altogether. No one has time for the necessary side-outs that go along with it.

Hopping around without dribbling after coming down with a rebound? That’s traveling.

Taking three steps on a layup attempt? That’s traveling.

Stutter-stepping before putting the ball on the ground on a drive? Yep, you guessed it...that’s traveling.

Well, according to the rulebook it is, anyway.

Finally, let’s talk about consistency. We (the refs) already whistled one dude for yelling “and one” after a layup, and we gave Bruce a T for just sticking up for his team after some egregiously poor reffing, instead of taking our medicine like we should have.

But when Tech’s Chris Clarke spikes the ball after being whistled for a foul on Montavious, sending it clear out of play? Named official Gerry Pollard was staring right at it, and didn’t do a thing.

Spiking a ball like that is an automatic technical foul, every time. End of statement. Some leeway is frequently given if you catch it on its way back up, but when it ends up in the stands, you’re supposed to hit them right there.

But hey, if we’re just going to pick and chose which rules need to be followed, let’s at least be consistently random, OK?

I have more to say about this, but I don’t want the fine from the Big 12 brass, and I know Morse isn’t ponying up for it.

Next Up: Saturday, home against the #12 West Virginia Mountaineers. Huggins has these guys playing hard, and they’ve got some big, athletic guys. Could get ugly, but let’s see how the freshmen do anyway.