No moral victory of silver lining in this debacle.
Two bad teams played bad basketball in a variety of different ways for 40 minutes, and Oklahoma State found a way to be slightly not as bad as K-State at the final horn.
The first half had the look of a traditional Bramlage rock fight.
Neither team executed much on offense, and fouls, turnovers, and missed shots were the expected outcomes on most possessions. The Wildcats grabbed a 17-15 lead on a David Sloan layup with 8:26 left in the half, but it was short lived as K-State went on one of their patented scoring droughts to end the half, only managing to bang in 4 free throws in 8 minutes.
The Cowboys managed to scrape together 10 points over the final 8 minutes, led by a 5 point outburst by Yor Anei, but weren’t exactly setting the gym on fire either. They took a 27-21 lead into the half.
I’m not sure if both teams came to a mutual agreement to spice things up in the second half, but what the first half lacked in offense, the second half lacked in defense.
Kansas State came out relatively hot and cut the lead to 29-26 by the first media timeout on the strength of a Cartier Diarra 3 pointer and a free throw apiece from Montavious Murphy and Makol Mawien. Oklahoma State looked frustrated on offense, the Cats were grinding out points, it looked like a victory was within reach.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 1 with 15:14 to play after Mike McGuirl drained two foul shots, but the game wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the night. Every time K-State made a run, Oklahoma State answered with a run of their own, always keeping the Wildcats at arms distance, and relying on a balanced attack that saw 4 Cowboys reach double figures, with Yor Anei leading the way with 15.
Mike McGuirl and Makol Mawien kept the Cats in the game, with two of their better offensive performances of the year, but could never get over the hump. Cartier did his normal, make a great play, make a terrible play routine, and Xavier Sneed, totally eliminated by the Cowboys 2-3 zone for most of the game, tried to get hot late, but couldn’t sustain the push.
While the scoring came easier the Cats in the second half, the defense didn’t leave the locker room. The Cowboys feasted at the rim, connecting on 7 layups or dunks in the second half. Bruce did not look pleased, to say the least.
The Wildcats looked poised to make a late run in the last minute after cutting the lead to 59-54 on a pair of Mawien free throws, but they couldn’t capitalize on two decent looks from 3 by McGuirl and Sneed and then couldn’t get Oklahoma State to miss enough free throws to make it tight.
Cartier made the last 10 seconds interesting by getting fouled, hitting one of two, creating a steal and then throwing the ball away, but it was all for naught as the bad guys left Manhattan, with the win.
My only consolation is that they have to wake up in Stillwater tomorrow.
Three In the Key
- Shout out to Mike McGuirl for coming off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 16 points after logging only 9 minutes of action against Iowa State. His outside shot was falling, and he provided enough spacing to allow Mawien to work in the post when he wasn’t sitting on the bench in foul trouble (shocking I know). This team needs McGuirl to shoot the ball well from outside, and he did just that tonight. That should be the recipe for success, but....
- Xavier Sneed has to be the best player on the court for K-State and I watched every minute of this game and only remember seeing him 2 or 3 times. He was passive against the zone, settling for jump shots instead of attacking seams. He contributed 8 points to the cause, and only one of those baskets came from inside the arc. Needless to say, it was a disappointing performance from the usually reliable senior. Those nights happen in basketball, but the Wildcats aren’t good enough to win basketball games when Sneed shoots 3-11 from the field and disappears for large chunks of the game.
- Cartier Diarra continues to be one of the most frustrating enigmas in college basketball. He played hard on both sides of the floor, but for every great play, he balanced it with a head scratching bad play. Turnovers once again marred and otherwise solid performance. It’s tough to win games when your primary ball handler has 3 assists and 5 turnovers. That’s not the ratio Bruce is looking for out of his main guard. It still looks like he’s forcing the game instead of letting the game come to him. He’s a talented player, but he’s got to find a balance to his game.
Other than that, it’s late and I’ve watched too much bad basketball tonight. See y’all later, take care.