College basketball teams lose more often than not when they give up 76 points. Their chances are even worse when they only score 50. Do both on the same night—as Kansas State (5-10, 1-6 Big 12) did against the Oklahoma Sooners (8-4,4-3) Tuesday evening, and you get run out of the arena by a 76-50 score.
The frustrating thing is, for a period of about five minutes the Wildcats showed what they could be—running crisp offense, playing solid defense and taking care of the ball to turn a 15-12 deficit into a 22-17 K-State advantage with just over six minutes to play in the first half. For all but a few fleeting moments otherwise, the Cats showed what kind of team they actually are right now: One that is frustratingly careless with the basketball, that fails to create and connect on open looks and that too often bookends offensive breakdowns with defensive lapses to let the opposition get away.
The Sooners followed K-State’s 10-2 run with a 13-2 burst of their own to erase a five-point deficit and finish the first half ahead 30-24. With K-State managing only two points through the first 5:40 of the second half, the run ballooned to 27-4, and OU’s lead to 44-26. Though freshman Luke Kasubke made a three-pointer and a jumper in the lane to cut the margin to 52-38 midway through the period, K-State would never get within single digits again.
The problems were manifold, but most punishing by far were steals and poor shot selection, which led to frequent unbalanced floor situations and easy points for the Sooners. OU forced 20 turnovers, but 13 of them were steals. They also blocked 7 shots. Those numbers are reflected in a 23-3 advantage in fast-break points and a 21-6 advantage in free-throw attempts, as K-State had to foul to prevent even more dunks from being shoved through the nets.
Selton Miguel had Yin-Yang sort of night, scoring 11 points on 5-10 shooting, collecting 7 rebounds and throwing two assists. But he also committed 5 turnovers and struggled at times defensively against De’Vion Harmon and Alondis Williams.
DaJuan Gordon made a couple of nice up-and-under moves as part of his 13 points, but he shot 6-14 overall and committed four turnovers.
Mike McGuirl had four giveaways, as well, and that does not count several occasions when he forced shots that OU either blocked or rebounded and converted to easy points at the other end. McGuirl made his first shot—a three-pointer—and then missed his next eight. He had one assist and two rebounds, finishing with his poorest performance of the season. In his 28 minutes of playing time, K-State was -25—the worst mark on the team.
A couple of semi-bright spots deserve mention. Kaosi Ezeagu returned to action, scoring 7 points and blocking two shots. Antonio Gordon brought energy, scoring four points on only three shot attempts and grabbing 11 rebounds. One of his buckets was an emphatic one-handed follow-slam. Kasubke finally found a few open looks in his second career game. He made 2 of 4, including 1-2 from three-point range, to finish with five points in 15 minutes of playing time.
K-State actually won the rebounding margin by an enormous 47-33 margin. That effort was more than offset by the turnovers, steals, and a shooting disparity of 46% to 36%, and by OU’s 7-20 showing from three-point range, compared to K-State’s 3-15 effort.
Harmon led OU with 16. Williams and Kur Kuath also reached double-figures, with 13 and 12, respectively.
Three in the Key
- COVID and injuries are hampering this team. Look, the ongoing shooting woes probably would have kept the Cats from winning this game, no matter what. But not having Nijel Pack as a steadying influence who can score and create for others made this more lop-sided than it needed to be. More importantly, the team’s development of both ability and chemistry has been thwarted by the numerous absences. Let’s hope the roster stabilizes soon, for the sake of the future.
- Fifty points is straight up embarrassing. OU is decent defensively (they held TCU to 46), but not dominant (they yielded 78 to TCU in their other match). I coached a high school team in 1995 that had a season-low of 56. That was in a 32-minute game, mind you. And the other team tried to stall the entire time in a game we won 56-22.
- I have nothing else to say. When I’m dredging up 26-year-old high school coaching memories, you know I’m at a loss.
Saturday vs. West Virginia at 3:00 on ESPN2.