Can Andre Davis Take Over as K-State’s No. 2 Receiver?

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By Cole Manbeck

If the roar of thunder was any indication last night, spring is here. Which means it’s time to talk about Kansas State football. The Wildcats started spring football on Wednesday, so now seems like a good time to start to dive into the upcoming season. Today’s blog focuses on Andre Davis, who the K-State coaching staff hopes to get on the field opposite of Tyler Lockett with Curry Sexton in the slot.

Davis, who played two years at Santa Rosa Junior College, signed in the 2014 recruiting class and is already on campus participating in spring practice. Davis, a 6-foot, 185-pound junior, possesses decent size and 4.4 speed. The scouting services had mixed reviews on Davis. Rivals.com listed him as a 2-star recruit with a 5.3 rating, meaning he was viewed by Rivals as a lower-tier 2-star. ESPN, however, ranked Davis as the 36th-best junior college player in the country and the fifth-best junior college receiver.

Part of the reason there are mixed evaluations on Davis are his stats. In his freshman season, he caught 32 passes for 312 yards. In his sophomore year, Davis caught 41 balls for 841 yards, averaging 20.5 yards per reception. Those numbers are nothing to be ashamed of, but Santa Rosa Junior College head coach Lenny Wagner told Powercat Gameday those statistics would be much better had it not been for an injury at quarterback.

“He’s way better than his stats show,” Wagner said in a phone interview. “We lost our quarterback in game two of the season and our backup was not as good as the starter. So it crunched our receivers. We did everything we could to find creative ways to get Andre the ball. We put him in the backfield. He wasn’t getting enough touches due to our quarterback and offensive line situation.”

Coaches on the West coast began to take notice as the season went on, but K-State got its foot in the door early and the Wildcats slammed that door shut on his recruitment.

“A lot of people liked him but the only school that really stepped up early was Kansas State,” Wagner said. “California looked at him and said he was their No. 2 guy. And another school had him as a No. 2 guy on their list. When K-State saw him, they loved him. That meant a lot to him. Nobody made a commitment like that. When he did that, he shut it down. He said ‘I’m done, that’s where I’m going.’ He committed to K-State so early that a lot of schools didn’t have a chance at him.”

Davis is an interesting story. He played one season at Santa Rosa, but then, in an effort to save money, left school and went back to his home in Baltimore. He took a semester off, then returned the following season to Santa Rosa.

“Since he didn’t play two consecutive years, he was off some people’s radars,” Wagner said. “When K-State started recruiting him, they knew right away they wanted to offer him.”

And here is why:

“He is phenomenal,” Wagner said. “I agree with people who say he’s the best in the country. He’s so explosive. He won some games for us. We were behind in five of our six wins in the fourth quarter, and in two of those games he ran back punts or kickoffs that were difference makers. This past season, he caught a pass and was a man possessed. He broke nine tackles and outran four guys to the end zone in the last minute. He was clutch.”

Wagner said that Davis has enjoyed his time in Manhattan thus far, and loves K-State head coach Bill Snyder. Lockett will love Davis as well if he can take some heat off K-State’s star receiver.

“What I could see happening is Andre would be on the opposite side of the field of Lockett and at some point and would take a lot of the pressure off of him,” Wagner said. “Whoever is playing that other side is going to be one on one and if Andre is that guy, he’s going to make a ton of big plays over there.

“He’s the complete package and there’s not a lot of guys I would say that about. He’s tough, fast and has great hands. He’s tremendous off the field. Good student. Always lifting weights. He’s a really sharp, awesome kid.”

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Jeff Mittie Press Conference

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Click play to listen to Mittie’s introductory press conference.Mittie_Jeff

 

One of the most experienced coaches in Division I college basketball will become the 9th head coach of the K-State women’s basketball program. TCU head coach Jeff Mittie has been announced as the new head women’s basketball coach at Kansas State taking the place of Deb Patterson.

Mittie, 47, has earned 454 wins in his 22 years of coaching with a winning percentage of .660. It has included stops at Missouri Western, Arkansas State and TCU. Over his last 14 seasons with the TCU women’s basketball program, Mittie has guided the program to 13 winning seasons with 11 consecutive postseason appearances, including nine NCAA tournament appearances.

He recorded his milestone 300th victory at TCU on Feb. 19th this past season during a home win over Kansas State. He will not be coaching TCU during their run through the WNIT that starts this week.

Mittie agreed to a five year contract approved by the Kansas State Athletics, Inc., Board of Directors and President Kirk Schulz.

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Cats Suffocated By Kentucky

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K-State players react to Kentucky’s lockdown defense and look forward to next year.

Shane Southwell on how he wants to be remembered.

Will Spradling on moving on after his career is over.

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Why K-State Can Defeat Kentucky

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By Cole Manbeck

As a 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, you don’t expect to draw the preseason No. 1-ranked team as the opponent in the opening round of the Big Dance. But that’s the card Kansas State has been dealt, as the Wildcats will play Kentucky Friday at 8:40 p.m. in St. Louis.

This is a mismatch for K-State on paper. But games aren’t won on paper. It was a mismatch for South Carolina. The Gamecocks beat Kentucky. It was a mismatch for Arkansas. The Razorbacks beat Kentucky twice. It was a mismatch for LSU. The Tigers beat Kentucky. South Carolina, LSU and Arkansas weren’t selected to be in the field of 68. So this is a winnable game for the Wildcats, but they cannot be intimidated by the name on the front of their opponent’s jersey come Friday night.

Kentucky is significantly bigger than K-State. And it’s not just on the inside. Kentucky is long on the perimeter. Its starting guards are James Young (6-foot-6), Aaron Harrison (6-6) and Andrew Harrison (6-6). Julius Randle leads the Wildcats’ frontcourt with 15 points per game and 10.5 rebounds, while Willie Cauley-Stein, at 7 feet tall, anchors Kentucky’s defense with 101 blocked shots this season. Stein ranks in the top-25 in the country with 2.84 blocked shots per game. Kentucky also plays Dakari Johnson, who is a 7-foot, 265-pound freshman. Johnson only averages 12 minutes per game on the season, but has seen increased action of late and is playing much better.

The obvious advantage Kentucky has over K-State is rebounding. Kentucky is No. 2 in the country in rebounding margin, outrebounding opponents by 10 per game. K-State ranks 151st in the country, outrebounding teams by only 1.3 per game. The biggest key will be keeping Kentucky off the offensive glass. Kentucky is No. 4 in the country with 14.8 offensive rebounds per game, and it led the SEC in offensive rebounding percentage, with a 42.2 percent rate. K-State ranked second-to-last in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage this season at only 67 percent.

That’s not to say K-State can’t outrebound Kentucky or outscore it in the paint. Baylor has equal size to Kentucky in its frontcourt. K-State outrebounded the Bears, the 12th-best rebounding team in the country, 33-26 in a 76-74 loss to in Manhattan. K-State outrebounded Texas 36-35 in a 67-64 loss in Austin. The Longhorns are the 11th-best rebounding team in the country. And K-State defeated KU, the No. 10 rebounding team in the country. So just because Kentucky is big inside doesn’t mean K-State can’t win the game, as the Wildcats have defeated both KU and Texas this season, and had a great shot to defeat Baylor twice.

Rebounding will obviously be critical on Friday, but the second-biggest key for K-State will be limiting its fouls, particularly on the inside with Thomas Gipson and D.J. Johnson. Kentucky has shot 1,020 free throws this season, which is the second-most in the country, and it has made 696 free throws, the third-most nationally. Kentucky averages 30 free throws per game, while K-State averages 23 attempts from the line per contest. Kentucky has had seven games this season where it has shot 40-plus free throws, and it has shot 30 or more free throws in 17 of its 34 games. K-State ranks 317th out of 345 teams with 21.7 fouls per game, and 25.5 percent of the points K-State has allowed this season have come at the free-throw line. On the offensive end of the floor, K-State has scored 21.5 percent of its points this season at the foul line, while Kentucky has scored 27 percent of its season’s points at the charity stripe.

Kentucky has four players who have shot 150 free throws or more, led by Randle, who has attempted 254, ranking 20th nationally. K-State doesn’t have a single player who has attempted more than 116 free throws (Marcus Foster).

The third key will be taking care of the basketball. Kentucky isn’t a great offensive team when you make them score in its half-court offense. Kentucky is better when it gets out and runs in transition in broken-floor opportunities for easy scores. Those easy baskets come in two different situations – turnovers and blocked shots. Kentucky ranks ninth in the country with 6.2 blocked shots per game. K-State players can’t just put their heads down and throw up a shot on the inside, because there’s a good chance it will get blocked and could lead to a fast-break situation for Kentucky. When K-State attacks inside, it must be smart. Use pump fakes, because Kentucky players often get over-eager and will leave the floor.

K-State, which ranks No. 57 nationally with a 1.26 assist-to-turnover ratio, can ill-afford silly turnovers. As I mentioned above, Kentucky isn’t a great half-court team. Kentucky averages 1.12 points per possession, which is solid, but that stat is inflated due to its ability to score in transition and due to the free throws. So if K-State can value every possession, take smart shots and cut down on fouling, it will have a good shot to win.

The fourth key will be hitting shots from the perimeter. Kentucky’s backcourt is big, so it will be difficult at times for K-State’s guards to get shots up over its length. Still, Will Spradling, Marcus Foster and Shane Southwell will need to shoot the ball well from the outside, because points in the paint will come at a premium. That being said, K-State can’t be afraid to attack inside, because it would be beneficial if it can get a couple of Kentucky’s big men in foul trouble.

One of the advantages K-State has in this game is its depth. K-State plays 10 guys 13 minutes or more. Kentucky only plays 7 guys 7 minutes or more per game. And K-State has been off since last Thursday afternoon, while Kentucky just had to play three games in three days, including a physical 61-60 loss to No. 1-ranked Florida on Sunday. K-State will have fresh legs, and Kentucky likely will too by Friday. However, K-State was able to rest for three days while Kentucky has been playing games. Now, while K-State is able to begin practicing and preparing for its opponent, Kentucky had to give its team Monday off.

Another advantage K-State has is its defense against Kentucky’s offense. K-State is one of the best teams in the country at defending the 3, and Kentucky only makes 32.5 percent of its attempts from beyond the arc. Only three Kentucky players have made more than 10 3s this season. Kentucky ranked 12th out of 14 teams in the SEC with just 5.1 made 3s per game this season.

Kentucky isn’t a very good passing team. The Wildcats have a 0.92 assist-to-turnover ratio, ranking No. 242 in the country. In Kentucky’s two losses to Arkansas this season, it combined for 18 assists and 35 turnovers. In its loss to Michigan State early in the season, it had eight assists and 17 turnovers. In its loss to LSU, the Wildcats had only eight assists and 13 turnovers. Kentucky, which has had more turnovers than assists in 18 of its 34 games this season, can play selfish basketball at times, trying to score one-on-one instead of passing the ball within the offense. When Kentucky struggles, it’s often because they don’t play team offense.

Kentucky is a good defensive team, holding teams to 0.99 points per possession and ranks 33rd nationally, holding teams to 40.3 percent. K-State isn’t far behind, ranking No. 55 in the country, limiting teams to 40.8 percent shooting from the floor. However, it’s important to note that the SEC isn’t known for great offenses, while the Big 12 has some of the best offensive teams in the country. So Kentucky’s stats are inflated from playing in a weaker league.

Speaking of inferior competition, Kentucky has only defeated three teams in the NCAA Tournament field (No. 4 seed Louisville, No. 11 seed Tennessee, No. 11 seed Providence). Kentucky is only 3-6 vs. NCAA-tournament teams, with three of those losses to top-ranked Florida. Kentucky is 4-6 vs. top-50 RPI teams, while K-State is 7-8 vs. top-50 RPI teams. K-State is 7-8 vs. teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament and has wins over No. 2 seed Kansas, No. 3 seed Iowa State, No. 5 seed Oklahoma and on down the list. So K-State has been much more battle-tested than Kentucky.

No one is giving K-State a chance, and yes, it’s a mismatch on paper, but keep in mind that there’s a reason Kentucky is an 8 seed. Yes, Kentucky is a blue-blood program. And of the seven guys Kentucky plays regular minutes, six of them were 5-star recruits, while the other was a 4-star. They’re talented, but that talent hasn’t equated to immense success. Out of the seven guys they typically play, five are freshmen and two are sophomores. They’re younger than K-State. Youth leads to inconsistency. And if Kentucky brings that inconsistency on Friday night, K-State can win. Remember, K-State has beaten teams that are better than Kentucky. Just don’t be intimidated by the name on the front of the jersey.

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Cats Fall To Baylor On Senior Day

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Kenny Chery scored 29 points and was perfect from the free throw line as Baylor made their finals 17 attempts from the charity stripe helping the Bears hold on to defeat Kansas State 76-74 on Senior Day Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.

After the game was tied 4-4 early on, K-State went on a 9-0 run to lead 13-4 with 12:47 left in the first half on a Shane Southwell jumper. Both teams struggled from the floor for the rest of the half and while Baylor did close to within three points, the Wildcats used a 10-4 run closing out the first half as they went into the locker room with a 33-25 advantage at intermission.

K-State stretched the lead to 37-25 at the start of the second half but their shooting from both the field and the free throw line betrayed them and the Bears began to heat up. Over the next 11 and a half minutes, Baylor would outscore K-State 28-9 to take a 53-46 lead with 6:11 remaining.

The Wildcats despite trailing by as much as eight points refused to give up and Marcus Foster was a big part of that effort as he knocked down six of his seven three pointers down the stretch for a team-high 29 points. The difference in the game however was free throws and Baylor was money from the charity stripe in the final minutes. After Baylor threw an inbouds pass out of bounds K-State had one last chance for a miracle victory but a full-court pass was intercepted and the buzzer sounded ending the Wildcats’ 15-game home court winning streak, their longest since the 1981-82 season.

K-State was 19-27 from the free throw line for the game and just five of 11 in the second half. The Wildcats also made just 15 of their 33 shots from the floor in the second half. Joining Cherry in double figures for the Bears was Cory Jefferson who had 16 points. Thomas Gipson added 16 points for K-State and Nino Williams had 15. The game marked the final time on the Bramlage hardwood for Omari Lawrence, Ryan Schultz, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling who were honored in a pre-game ceremony.

Kansas State (20-11, 10-8) lost at home on Senior Day for the first time since 2010 and now turns its attention to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. K-State will likely begin play in the tournament on Thursday against Iowa State.

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How K-State Took Down ISU

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By Cole Manbeck

*Note: I hope I retain your attention long enough to make it to the bottom of this blog. I have put together a chart at the end that shows how well K-State stacks up against some of the other top teams in the country in terms of its postseason resume. You might be surprised.*

Kansas State’s bench carried the Wildcats for the first 30 minutes on Saturday. And then the bench passed the torch to the starters, who took K-State the rest of the way in the Wildcats’ 80-73 victory over No. 15 Iowa State on Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State’s bench scored 38 of the team’s first 56 points, led by Shane Southwell’s 13 points and D.J. Johnson’s 12 points on 5-of-5 shooting. But the Wildcats’ starters scored the final 24 points. Will Spradling, Wesley Iwundu and Marcus Foster had 2 points combined in the first half, as all three sat for much of the half due to foul trouble. In the game’s final 20 minutes, those three combined to score 28 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Iwundu, Foster and Spradling went a combined 12-of-13 from the free-throw line in the second half. Free-throw shooting was big in this game. K-State, which has shot just 65 percent from the foul line this season, made 23-of-29 (79 percent) in the game. And from the 8:25-mark to the 0:36-mark of the second half, K-State had a stretch where it made 11-of-13 from the foul line. During that time period, Foster went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, and this was key, because the game was tight and K-State was struggling to score in its offensive sets at times.

One of the big keys to Saturday’s game was keeping Iowa State’s role players in check. The Cyclones don’t have a deep bench, only playing seven guys regular minutes. Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane were sensational, scoring 54 points combined on 17-of-31 shooting. However, the other five guys who played for Iowa State combined to score 19 points on 6-of-35 (17 percent) shooting from the floor. Matt Thomas, who scored 14 points against K-State in the Wildcats’ 81-75 loss in Ames in January, went 0-of-3 from 3-point range and didn’t make a shot from the floor Saturday. Thomas and Naz Long, who also comes off the bench for the Cyclones, combined to go 0-of-11 from the floor and 0-9 from 3-point range. As a result, K-State outscored Iowa State’s bench 38-2. In addition, Georges Niang, who scored 20 against the Wildcats earlier this year, went just 3-of-14 from the floor and scored 8 points.

K-State’s defense was once again tremendous. The Wildcats, who have the No. 1 field-goal defense in the Big 12, held Iowa State to 23-of-66 (34.8 percent) accuracy from the floor. The Cyclones entered the contest shooting 47.5 percent from the floor on the season, ranking No. 2 in the Big 12, so K-State held them 12 percent below their season average. Iowa State entered Saturday leading the Big 12 with 8.2 made 3-point attempts per game. However, the Cyclones ranked No. 6 in the conference, shooting 34 percent. In their eight road games prior to Saturday, they were shooting 27.6 percent from 3. That number held true once again. K-State, the No. 1 team in the Big 12 and No. 7 team nationally at defending the 3, held Iowa State to 7-of-27 (26 percent) from beyond the arc (although Iowa State did miss some open looks).

Iowa State leads the country with a 1.84 assist-to-turnover ratio and averages a Big-12 best 19 assists per game to just 10 turnovers. K-State held the Cyclones to just 12 assists and 11 turnovers, a 1.09 assist-to-turnover ratio.

The biggest issue for K-State wasn’t its defense, but once again, defensive rebounding. Iowa State entered Saturday second to last in the Big 12 in offensive rebounding percentage, only grabbing 27 percent of its missed shots on the season. In Saturday’s game, Iowa State had 20 offensive rebounds, rebounding 46.5 percent of its missed shots. However, the Cyclones weren’t efficient in their second-chance opportunities, only scoring 16 points on those 20 offensive rebounds. K-State, which had 12 offensive rebounds, actually outscored Iowa State 18-16 on second-chance points. The 12 offensive rebounds for the Wildcats was important, because Iowa State came into the game No. 1 in the country with 29 defensive rebounds per game and were No. 1 in the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage, rebounding 71 percent of its opponents’ missed shots. K-State rebounded 35 percent of its missed shots Saturday and capitalized by scoring on the majority of those offensive boards.

As I wrote in Friday’s blog, Iowa State is actually a good defensive team, allowing only 0.99 points per possession. The Cyclones hold teams to 40.6 percent shooting, which ranks third in the conference. K-State averaged 1.10 points per possession Saturday and made 42.4 percent of its shots. This was a balanced attack by K-State. Five guys scored in double figures, while Spradling added 8 points and Nigel Johnson scored 7.

It has been talked about how Spradling’s 3-point shot in overtime against KU on Feb. 10 was the senior guard’s “big moment.” He added another moment in Saturday’s game. With the game tied at 69 with 1:36 remaining, Spradling came off a screen and buried a 3 from the top of the key to give K-State a 72-69 lead. Iowa State never closed in on the lead after that shot. Spradling also connected on a huge shot just a few minutes earlier. With the shot clock down to 4 seconds and K-State only up 63-62, he connected on a mid-range jumper from the elbow to push the lead to 3.

With the victory, K-State now has eight straight seasons with 20 or more wins. And they’ve almost assuredly punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament, if they hadn’t already prior to Saturday. K-State now has nine top-100 RPI victories this season and seven top-50 RPI wins. Only seven other teams in the country have more top-50 RPI wins than K-State. And the Wildcats have two more regular-season games against top-50 RPI teams and the Big 12 Tournament.

Now, for some fun, I went through and examined every team in the top 50 of the RPI to see how K-State stacks up against other NCAA Tournament teams in terms of its resume.

Note: In the below chart, I have ranked these teams in order of the most top-50 RPI victories. But I also wanted to provide the teams’ records vs. the RPI top 100 as well. The column “Record vs. Top-100 RPI” encompasses a team’s entire record vs. the top 100, so it includes the top-50 RPI wins as well. For example, KU is 12-7 vs. the top-50 RPI, and it is 4-0 vs. teams No. 51-100 in the RPI. So it is 16-7 overall vs. the top 100 of the RPI.

 

Team Record vs. Top-50 RPI Record vs. Top-100 RPI
KU 12-7 16-7
Arizona 10-2 14-2
Syracuse 8-2 14-2
Wisconsin 8-3 15-4
Michigan 8-5 11-6
Iowa State 8-5 10-6
Oklahoma 8-5 10-7
UCLA 7-4 8-6
K-State 7-5 9-7
Texas 7-8 12-8
Creighton 6-3 12-5
Michigan State 6-4 9-7
Arizona State 6-5 8-7
Baylor 6-8 7-9
Massachusetts 5-2 12-4
Florida 5-2 14-2
North Carolina 5-3 11-4
Duke 5-4 10-5
Cincinnati 5-5 8-5
Stanford 5-7 6-8
Saint Louis 4-3 8-3
SMU 4-3 4-4
Ohio State 4-4 11-5
Virginia 4-4 10-5
Virginia Commonwealth 4-4 7-6
St. Josephs 4-4 7-6
Connecticut 4-5 9-5
Louisville 4-5 5-5
Memphis 4-6 5-6
Iowa 4-8 6-9
Oklahoma State 4-9 7-9
Wichita State 3-0 8-0
Xavier 3-4 8-7
BYU 3-5 7-6
Colorado 3-7 7-9
Minnesota 3-7 6-10
New Mexico 2-2 5-4
San Diego State 2-2 6-2
Kentucky 2-4 13-7
George Washington 2-5 8-7
Oregon 2-6 8-7
Gonzaga 1-4 8-4
Southern Mississippi 1-1 3-3
Pittsburgh 1-6 5-7

 

You’ll notice that K-State is 17th overall in top-100 RPI wins, which is very good. And you’ll also notice that the Wildcats have more top-50 RPI victories than nationally-ranked teams such as: Duke, Florida, Kentucky, San Diego State, Villanova, Michigan State, North Carolina, Cincinnati, Ohio State, UConn, Louisville, Memphis, Virginia, Saint Louis and Wichita State. Impressive for what was deemed a rebuilding year for the Wildcats.

 

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K-State Fights Past ISU

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By Erik Stone

Shane Southwell scored 13 points in his best game in more than a month and four other players tallied double figures as Kansas State outlasted Iowa State 80-73 in a physical and sometimes contentious game Saturday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats got off to a rough start as they were victimized by some questionable calls from the officiating crew which allowed the Cyclones to jump out to a 9-4 lead. It was during that time that K-State coach Bruce Weber received a warning for arguing the calls but what it also did was light a spark underneath his team. The Wildcats proceeded to go on a 16-0 run over the next 4:06 for a 20-9 advantage. K-State would lead by as much as 31-19 before Iowa State led by star players Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane crept back to within 39-34 at halftime.

For much of the second half, the Wildcats were able to maintain a slim advantage leading by as much as 49-44 with 15:21 remaining but Iowa State refused to quit and tied the game at 55-55 on a pair of Ejim free throws with 11:22 left. The Cyclones took their first lead of the second half on a three-pointer by Ejim but K-State responded and regained the lead on a dunk by Thomas Gipson. Iowa State led 62-60 with 8:11 remaining on the clock but K-State went back in front thanks to three free throws, two of them by Marcus Foster who stepped up in the second half after going to the bench early in the first half after getting into foul trouble.

The key point of the game happened in the final two minutes. The Cyclones knotted the score at 69-69 on a three-pointer by Monte Morris but Will Spradling who was honored before the game for becoming the 25th player in K-State history to surpass the 1,000-point barrier gave the Wildcats the lead for good with a three of his own with 1:37 left. From there K-State scored six of their final eight points from the free throw line where they made 23 of 29 shots for the game thus securing the eighth consecutive winning season for the program and record 15th straight win on the Bramlage hardwood.

Joining Southwell in double figures were Gipson and D.J. Johnson who scored 12 points apiece while Foster and Wesley Iwundu added 11 points apiece. Ejim who was called for a technical foul during the second half after he appeared to taunt Nino Williams led all scorers with 30 points while Kane added 24. The win by K-State put the Cats in a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12 joining Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Longhorns earlier Saturday in Norman 77-65.

Kansas State (20-9, 10-6) will now travel to Stillwater for a Big Monday match-up with Oklahoma State. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

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Breaking Down K-State’s Matchup vs. Iowa State

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By Cole Manbeck

Kansas State’s matchup vs. Iowa State on Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum is a critical game for both teams. The Cyclones enter Saturday with a 22-5 overall record and are 10-5 in the conference. With a win, it would ensure that they’d finish ahead of K-State in the final conference standings. If the Wildcats win, they will be tied with Iowa State in the Big 12 standings. In the event that both teams ended the season with the same conference record and they split the two head-to-head matchups, K-State would own the tiebreaker because it defeated the No. 1 team in the Big 12 – KU.

So there’s a lot on the line, as the Wildcats, with a win and some help from other teams, would still have a shot to climb to the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. That’s important, because it would keep K-State out of KU’s side of the bracket until the championship game, if both teams were to make it that far. The Cyclones’ RPI is No. 11 in the country. If K-State were to win, it would have its seventh top-50 RPI win and its ninth top-100 RPI win on the season, which would surpass last season’s K-State team in both top-50 and top-100 RPI victories. With a win, the Wildcats would be an absolute lock for the NCAA Tournament and could begin to improve their seeding.

Iowa State enters Saturday’s game having won seven of its last eight games overall. However, only two of those wins came on the road, with one being at winless TCU and the other a triple-overtime victory at Oklahoma State. The Cyclones are extremely difficult to beat in Hilton Coliseum, but they can be defeated on the road, where they are 4-4 on the season.

Below is a breakdown of several key factors for both teams on Saturday:

  • Iowa State has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.84, which ranks No. 1 in the country. The Cyclones average a Big-12 best 19 assists per game and only 10 turnovers. Monte Morris, the Cyclones’ freshman point guard, has a 5.24 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks No. 1 in the country, while DeAndre Kane averages 5.9 assists per game, ranking second in the Big 12. K-State is third in the Big 12 with 15.5 assists per game and fourth in the conference with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.26.
  • Rebounding will be a huge factor on Saturday. Iowa State is an interesting team when it comes to pounding the glass. The Cyclones lead the country with 29 defensive rebounds per game. And they lead the Big 12 in defensive rebounding percentage, grabbing 71 percent of their opponents’ missed shots. Iowa State’s Dustin Hogue is No. 2 in the Big 12, averaging 8.5 boards per game, while Melvin Ejim is No. 4 in the conference with 8.3 per game. Those two also rank No. 2 and No. 3 in the Big 12 in defensive rebounds per contest, so when the shot is missed, they’re more than likely going to go and get the missed shot. However, despite being one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country, the Cyclones rank seventh in the Big 12 in rebounding margin, only outrebounding teams by 0.6 per game. The reason: The Cyclones rank ninth in the Big 12 in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing only 27 percent of their missed shots. This is likely due to the following: The Cyclones spread the floor on the offensive end and rely heavily on dribble-drives and kick–out passes to shooters. Because of that, they typically don’t have more than one man in the paint to collect an offensive board. They also like to play in transition, so when they miss a shot, there’s often no one there for the rebound.

K-State has had significant difficulties in the rebounding department over its last five games (note: I am using my discretion and excluding TCU because the Horned Frogs are the second-worst rebounding team in the entire country. So I’m throwing those numbers out). So let’s take K-State’s last five games (excluding TCU): Texas, KU, at Baylor, at Oklahoma and at Texas Tech: In those five games, K-State has been outrebounded by a total of 198-153. That averages out to 39.6 rebounds for K-State’s opponents to the Wildcats’ 30.6. So K-State has been outrebounded by an average of nine per game in those games. During that stretch, K-State has given up 76 offensive rebounds on 176 missed shots. So K-State is giving up 15 offensive rebounds per game and is allowing opponents to collect 43 percent of their missed shots in those five contests. That number is extremely high and needs to change. The Wildcats actually rank ahead of Iowa State with a plus-1.5 rebounding margin on the season, but they cannot continue this downward trend on the glass if they want to win Saturday and going forward.

  • Iowa State relies heavily on the 3-point shot, averaging 24 attempts from beyond the arc per game. The Cyclones lead the Big 12 with 8.2 made 3-pointers per game. But this Iowa State team isn’t as efficient as past Cyclone teams at making the 3-point shot. The Cyclones are making 34.1 percent from 3 on the season, which ranks sixth in the Big 12. To put that in perspective, K-State has been considered a poor 3-point shooting team this season, and the Wildcats have made 33.1 percent of their 3-point attempts, so Iowa State is only 1 percent better from 3 on the season.

This will be a key area on Saturday. In the last matchup between these two teams (an 81-75 Iowa State victory in Ames), K-State allowed Iowa State to get in a rhythm from 3 early. The Cyclones made 8-of-11 from beyond the arc in the opening half to take a 46-34 halftime lead. K-State held Iowa State to just 1-of-7 from 3 in the second half, but the Cyclones still made 50 percent of their 3-point attempts in the contest. K-State has the best 3-point field-goal percentage defense in the Big 12 and ranks seventh in the country, holding teams to 28.4 percent accuracy from 3. It will be key that K-State closes out quickly on shooters and holds Iowa State to below 40 percent from 3 on Saturday.

  • The Cyclones are a very good offensive team, leading the Big 12 with 83.6 points per game and rank No. 5 nationally in scoring offense. Iowa State averages 1.13 points per offensive possession on 74 possessions per game. So it plays at a faster pace than K-State, which averages 66 possessions per game and 1.04 points per possession. K-State has the best field-goal percentage defense in the Big 12, holding opponents to 40.2 percent from the floor. Iowa State is second in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage offense, making 47.5 percent of its shots.

Ejim leads the Big 12 with 18.4 points per game and is No. 1 in the league, making 52 percent of his shots. Ejim, Georges Niang (49.4 percent) and Kane (48 percent) rank No. 1, No. 5 and No. 6 in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage shooting, respectively.

  • Iowa State is solid on defense. The Cyclones hold opponents to 40.6 percent shooting and only allow 0.99 points per possession. To put that in perspective, K-State allows 0.96 points per possession, and we know how good the Wildcats’ defense is. K-State will need to continue to play well at home on the offensive end of the floor. And the Wildcats really need to shake the poor starts on offense. In the first halves of their last five games, they are averaging only 0.82 points per possession. K-State needs to come out and play well early to get the crowd going and then feed off that energy.
  • It will be critical that K-State doesn’t allow a role player like Matt Thomas to go off on the offensive end for Iowa State. In the previous matchup, Thomas, who averages 6.6 points per game, went 4-of-4 from 3 in the first half and scored 14 points in the game. In that matchup, Niang and Thomas combined for 26 points on 7-of-8 shooting from 3 in the first half.

Niang, who averages 16.8 points per game, is a difficult matchup for K-State because he’s 6-foot-8, can knock down the 3 and can also drive to the basket. It will be important that Shane Southwell plays and plays well in this game, because Iowa State is the type of team that Southwell matches up with.

  • Fouls will be a crucial aspect of this game. Iowa State isn’t a deep team, playing only seven guys regular minutes. However, the Cyclones don’t foul a lot, ranking No. 43 in the country with just 17.4 fouls per game. Meanwhile, K-State averages 21.4 fouls per game, which ranks 308th out of 351 teams in the country. The Wildcats need to attack and try to get Iowa State in foul trouble, in particular Ejim and Hogue – the Cyclones’ primary big men.

All of that being said, Iowa State isn’t the same team on the road as it is at home.  Neither is K-State. The Wildcats are 7-0 in Big 12 play in Bramlage Coliseum and have been very good, for the most part, on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor in Manhattan.

As I mentioned above, Iowa State’s offense averages 1.13 points per possession on the season and its defense allows an average of 0.99 points per possession. However, in their seven Big-12 road games, the Cyclones are allowing opponents to score 1.12 points per possession, shoot 45 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3. On the offensive end, the Cyclones have averaged 1.06 points per possession in Big-12 road games and have shot 44 percent from the floor and 27.6 percent from 3.

This is certainly a game K-State can win, one I think the Wildcats will win.

 

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Road Roller Coaster Finally Ends Well

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By Cole Manbeck

If the Kansas State men’s basketball team was a rollercoaster ride at an amusement park, even the ultimate thrill seekers might have their doubts about jumping on such a wild ride. The Wildcats have had several high and low points this season, and they provide plenty of those highs and lows on the road.

Take Tuesday night’s 60-56 win at Texas Tech, for example. This game can be broken down into two critical segments. K-State took a 16-10 lead with 8:49 remaining in the first half. Over the Wildcats’ next 30 offensive possessions, they scored 13 points, an average of 0.43 points per possession. The abysmal stretch lasted until the 12:47-mark of the second half. So K-State scored 13 points in more than 16 minutes of action. During that time span, the Wildcats shot 3-of-19 (16 percent) from the floor and had nine turnovers. But K-State was able to stay in the game thanks to making 7-of-8 from the free-throw line and because of its solid defense. By the end of that stretch, K-State trailed 38-29, the largest deficit of the game. This was the low point.

Now, for the high: After that 30-possession stretch of 13 points, K-State caught fire. From the 12:46-mark of the second half to the end of the game, K-State went 10-of-14 from the floor, made 8-of-11 from the free-throw line and turned the ball over three times. The Wildcats scored 31 points on their final 20 offensive possessions, an average of 1.55 points per possession. Those numbers are terrific, but it gets even better. From the 10:48-mark to the 4:34-mark of the second half, K-State scored 22 points on 11 possessions, an average of 2 points per possession. In other words, K-State averaged a field-goal make on 11 straight offensive possessions. During that stretch, the Wildcats made 7-of-8 from the floor, went 3-of-3 from 3-point range and made 5-of-6 free throws while not turning the ball over a single time. That led to the Wildcats taking a 54-47 lead.

However, the Wildcats had one final drop-off in this rollercoaster ride. K-State turned the ball over on three straight possessions, and within 2 minutes, Tech had executed a 9-0 run to take a 56-54 lead. But K-State caught a fortunate break (hey, they were due for one on the road) in a loose-ball scramble that led to a Wesley Iwundu three-point play to take a 57-56 lead. And unlike the Baylor game, K-State was able to get a defensive rebound on the first missed shot by the Red Raiders on the ensuing possession. That led to the Wildcats making 1-of-2 from the foul line and then getting one final defensive stop to win the game.

What a ride, huh?

The Wildcats’ offense was bad for the majority of the game. K-State averaged 0.91 points per possession in the contest, including just 0.76 points per possession in the first half. But K-State did manage to average 1.06 points per possession in the second half, scoring 35 points on 33 possessions.

The biggest difference between the first and second half was that K-State attacked the rim more in the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats shot 9-of-26 from the floor in the first half and made just 3-of-14 from 3. In the second half, they attempted only six 3-point attempts, making three of them. K-State only shot six free throws in the first half, making four. The Wildcats attempted 15 free throws in the final 20 minutes, making 12.

K-State’s defense was once again spectacular. The Wildcats held Tech to 0.88 points per possession, including just 0.84 points per possession in the first half. The Red Raiders entered Tuesday averaging 1.09 points per possession on the season, which is solid. So Tech isn’t a bad offensive team. The Red Raiders were shooting nearly 47 percent on the season from the floor, but only made 36 percent on Tuesday. K-State’s stellar 3-point defense returned after struggling at Oklahoma. The Wildcats held Tech to 1-of-10 from 3. The Red Raiders were making 33 percent from 3 going into the game.

While K-State’s defense was great, the Wildcats continued to struggle to capitalize on their defensive effort by failing to get defensive rebounds. Tech outrebounded K-State 34-24 in the game and had 13 offensive rebounds to K-State’s five. The result was Tech outscored the Wildcats 16-4 on second-chance points. The Red Raiders grabbed 39 percent of their missed shots, which is too many to allow. But the Wildcats’ offensive rebounding was poor as well. K-State grabbed only 18 percent of its missed shots in the game. Tech allows its opponents to get 32 percent of its missed shots on the season.

There are still a few concerns following Tuesday night’s win. K-State once again allowed an opponent back into the game late after building a 7-point lead with 4:34 remaining. And the Wildcats continue to have significant offensive lapses in games.

In the Wildcats’ 86-73 loss at Oklahoma, K-State had a stretch where it scored 8 points on 22 offensive possessions over a time period of 13:48. During that stretch, K-State went 3-of-15 from the floor and turned the ball over eight times. Now, let’s add up the rough stretch of offense from the Texas Tech and Oklahoma games: K-State scored 21 points on 52 possessions, an average of 0.40 points per possession. That stretches out to a time frame of 29:51. During those two combined time spans, the Wildcats went 6-of-34 (18 percent) from the floor and had 17 turnovers. That can’t continue. And neither can K-State’s first-half struggles on offense. In the Wildcats’ last five games, they’ve averaged 0.82 points per possession in the opening half.

Despite all of that, the Wildcats got it done Tuesday, snagging a very important road win. Most people will tell you it wasn’t pretty, but I don’t believe there’s such a thing as an ugly win on the road. You take the win any way you can get it. K-State did just that. It just happened to be a wild ride.

 

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Sooners Drill Cats

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Buddy Hield scored 18 points to lead four Oklahoma players in double figures and the Sooners used a 31-7 first half run to seize control on their way to an 86-73 win over Kansas State Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman.

Oklahoma which lost to the Wildcats 72-66 earlier this season at Bramlage Coliseum jumped out to a 38-14 lead before settling for a 41-22 advantage at halftime as K-State was beset by numerous turnovers that the Sooners promptly converted into points. The roll continued for OU in the second half as they led by as much as 66-40 midway through the second half.

Led by Marcus Foster, the Wildcats began to chip away at the deficit and pulled to within 77-66 with 2:53 remaining in the contest. However, Thomas Gipson was called for a technical foul as part of a double technical along with OU’s Ryan Spangler allowing the Sooners to sink free throws the rest the way and end a three-game losing streak to Kansas State that dated back to 2012.

Joining Hield in double figures for Lon Kruger’s club were Isaiah Cousins with 17 points, Cameron Clark had 11 points and Jordan Woodard added 10. Foster led all scorers with 21 points, most of them during the second half while Nigel Johnson had 11 and Gipson added 10.

Kansas State (18-9, 8-6) lost on the road for the sixth consecutive game in Big 12 play. K-State takes to the road again Tuesday night when they travel to Lubbock to face Tubby Smith’s Texas Tech squad. Tipoff at United Spirit Arena is set for 6 p.m.

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