For much of the season, Kansas State has struggled to find a rhythm, often floundering on offense with the game on the line. Yesterday, all that came to a quick and definitive end. Kansas State is a running team. Forget about balance. Forget about the complex passing game. The Wildcats are just going to run the ball right down the field.
Consider this, for example. Yesterday against Baylor, Kansas State only attempted 25 passes, but as a team, the Wildcats had 51 carries for 237 yards. Everyone who could run the ball ran it yesterday. Jesse Ertz had 17 carries for a paltry 46 yards, but that included an electric 40-yard run where Ertz turned a bad play into a highlight reel moment. Charles Jones had six carries for 46 yards and averaged 7.7 yards/carry. Winston Dimel only had 8 yards total, but as is usual for Dimel, he had two TDs as well.
And then there was Alex Barnes. He had 19 carries for 129 yards and four TDs, three of them in just one quarter. He set the field on fire and turned the game on its head. He was undeniable, invincible, unstoppable. I have run out of superlatives to describe Barnes, and he’s only a redshirt freshman.
I am hardly alone in my effusive praise for Barnes. Our own Derek Smith notes that Barnes is the best player on this offense, and it’s not close. Jon Morse’s recap was pretty much BARNES BARNES BARNES. Even the official game review from KStateSports was headlined by Barnes.
Barnes did more than just run the ball. When Kansas State looked beaten, he provided a much-needed spark, and for once, the coaching staff stayed with the hot hand. That was probably because the hand was on fire, and Barnes turned a spark into a conflagration that basically swallowed Baylor’s efforts to stop the run (Ken Corbitt, Topeka Capital-Journal).
Words like “monster” and “beast” were used to describe Barnes yesterday, and mostly by his own teammates. After the game, Bill Snyder gave him the ultimate compliment, praising both Barnes’ work ethic and his running style, calling him “gifted.” (Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle)
It’s probably too early to project, but I think we have a star on our hands, Wildcat Nation.
On the other end of the scoreline, Baylor appears to be in free fall. This was the Bears’ fourth straight loss in a season already derailed by off-field issues, the seriousness of which couldn’t be glossed over by winning football games anyway. But yesterday, the team looked lethargic, and at one point, Baylor appeared to quit altogether, despite the coaching staff and players’ assertions to the contrary (Waco Tribune).
Finally, it’s officially #HATEWEEK here. The Sunflower Showdown is among the oldest rivalries in the sport, and the oldest conference rivalry in the current Big 12. Kansas State has won seven straight, and an eighth win is almost certainly on the cards. But Kansas’ shock overtime win over Texas yesterday promises to make the game at least a bit interesting. This will be the first time since 2007 that both teams will come into the game off a win.
They’re still partying down at the Flaw on the Kaw:
Don’t laugh though. As TB notes, the NCAA is ever vigilant, and this has serious consequences for Kansas State.
In the Barclays Center Classic opener, the Kansas State men’s team will host Hampton. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 PM, and the game will be on FSN Kansas City as well as KStateHD.tv.
This is the first meeting between the Wildcats and the Pirates.
Meanwhile, the women’s team will launch today’s action at Bramlage Coliseum taking on the Lamar Cardinals. The game tips off at 1 PM and you can follow it live on ESPN3. This is the last game of a three-game home stand for the Wildcats.
Note: the Slate is your open game thread for the women’s basketball game.
Happy Sunday, all!