Don’t let the final 19-point margin fool you. No. 2 Baylor did whatever it wanted to do against K-State in Waco, led by 34 with 4:04 to play, then allowed the Wildcats a 16-1 run against players even devoted Baylor fans had to go to the program to identify to make the final margin a “respectable” final score of 85-66.
If you want to call a 19-point loss “respectable.” Considering what Baylor could have done, the margin is at least misleading.
The Baylor Bears (25-2, 14-1 Big 12) have proven by now that they are talented, deep and, with a newfound commitment to aggressive defense, one of the most complete teams in the country. K-State (9-19, 2-13), meanwhile, has struggled all season to score, has lacked a clear identity, and has not been competitive in several games, of late.
K-State played the Bears close in Manhattan three weeks ago, falling 73-67. They had to play fairly near their ceiling to be that close, with Xavier Sneed dropping 23 points on only 12 shots, and three other players scoring in double-figures. Tonight, on the road, the senior was hit with early foul trouble, started 0-10 from the field before making a three-pointer in the second half to finish 1-11, and fouled out after playing only 23 minutes.
Though Cartier Diarra (19), DaJuan Gordon (14) and Mike McGuirl (10) all reached double figures, it was nowhere near enough in this one.
The Wildcats’ performance in Waco was mostly an exhibition of, to quote the late NFL coach Dennis Green, “who we thought they were.”
K-State scored only 24 points before halftime. On-brand.
They did not score a field goal until the 13:38 mark of the first half and were down 11-2 before Cartier Diarra sank that lay-up. Not only is this on-brand. It’s the recurring, sad silent movie of almost the entire conference season.
They committed 18 turnovers. Of late, certainly on-brand.
They surrendered 28 shots outside the three-point arc, and Baylor made 13 of them (46.6%). Also, on-brand.
The Cats wound up making 22-of-49 shots, good for 44.9%. That is better than they have shot lately. But before the finishing flurry against Baylor backups, during which they made 5-of-7, K-State was 17-42 from the field (40.5%) Even that, sadly, is a little better than the usual showing. But not nearly good enough against a team like Baylor.
One brand that has shown slippage of late has been the Wildcats’ defense. It was not up to par tonight, yielding 85 points on 49.1% shooting. Again, keep in mind that guys who never play finished the last four minutes of the game and made zero shots for the Bears.
In a game that required a peak performance, K-State simply never approached that level of execution, and the game really never was a game.
Five Bears reached double-figures, led by mop-headed sophomore reserve Matthew Mayer, who made 6-of-7 shots on his way to 19 points.
Three in the Key
- If you’re looking for bright spots (and you have to really look), DaJuan Gordon’s 14 points were one shy of his career-high 15, which he posted in the home win against West Virginia. Tempering the enthusiasm a bit, that was the only Big 12 game in which the Wildcats (who somehow won that January clash, 84-68) have eclipsed the 70-point mark.
- Despite his horrible, awful, terrible, forgettable shooting night, Xavier Sneed did manage to eclipse the 1,400-point scoring mark for his career. Congratulations, X. Wish your senior year could have been more meaningful.
- Only three regular season games left. No. 1 Kansas will be prohibitive favorites on Saturday. A road game against Oklahoma State and Senior Night against Iowa State once looked like gettable games. But unless the defensive effort and shooting numbers perk up unexpectedly, it’s entirely possible K-State could enter the Big 12 tournament on an 11-game losing streak.