Examining how K-State beat KU

| February 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Cole Manbeck

 

A win over Kansas doesn’t erase what has been a frustrating and disappointing season from the minds’ of Kansas State fans. But for that one night, the fan base was able to forget about the struggles of the season and enjoy another victory over their in-state rival.

 

Now, let’s take a look at what K-State did to defeat the Jayhawks:

 

  • K-State pushed the tempo: KU entered Monday night’s game holding teams to 39.6 percent shooting on the season, ranking 36th in the country. In eight of KU’s 14 Big 12 games, it had held opponents to below 39 percent from the floor. Heading into Monday, Iowa State was the only team in the conference to have shot better than 41.7 percent from the floor against the Jayhawks.

 

What’s this have to do with tempo? It’s no secret K-State struggles on offense. Over the Wildcats’ previous six games, they had combined to make just 109 of their 291 field-goal attempts (37 percent). One way to fix the half-court struggles is to use athleticism and get out and run the floor. I went back and charted the time on the shot clock when K-State attempted a field-goal attempt on each of its possessions during the game. The Wildcats scored 25 of their 70 points within the first six seconds of the shot clock on Monday. The first half really stood out, as K-State scored 15 points in the first six seconds of its possessions.

 

The final box score says K-State only scored eight fast-break points. But

the Wildcats also got to the foul line and made free throws as a direct result of attacking in transition. Not all of those 25 points scored in the first six seconds of the shot clock came on the fast break, but a large chunk of it did.

 

Wesley Iwundu and Nigel Johnson were aggressive in transition. Iwundu took every opportunity he had throughout the game to push the ball up the court. K-State had 67 offensive possessions in the game. Over its previous six games, it had averaged 60 possessions per game. So the Wildcats got out and ran more than they have in the past, and it paid off.

 

  • Avoiding the prolonged scoring drought: One of the biggest issues with this team is it goes into long scoring droughts. This occurred in the first four minutes of the second half, but from then on, the Wildcats were terrific on the offensive end. From the 15:48-mark to the 6:13-mark of the second half, K-State scored 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting and went 3-of-3 at the free-throw line. Over that 9-minute-and-35-second time frame, K-State scored 27 points on 15 possessions. In other words, the Wildcats came close to averaging two points on every possession it had during that period of time. It’s hard to be more efficient than that. That run of strong offense enabled K-State to erase a 41-33 deficit and take a 60-54 lead that it never relinquished.

 

I pointed out earlier that K-State was good in transition, but over the last 15 minutes of the game, the Wildcats really executed in their half-court offense. They moved well on offense, screened for each other and passed the ball effectively.

 

I loved the play design K-State executed perfectly to take a 68-63 lead with 27 seconds remaining. Justin Edwards had the ball at the top of the key. K-State’s Thomas Gipson set an on-ball screen on Brannen Greene, then Nino Williams set a secondary screen on Perry Ellis, who had hedged out to help Greene. This caused confusion for KU, as Gipson rolled to the basket and Williams rolled to the elbow. There was nothing the Jayhawks could do as they were in scramble mode. K-State actually had two options on the play. Williams could take the open jumper, or he could have thrown it down to Gipson on the block for the score. It was executed to perfection.

 

Overall, K-State shot 47.2 percent from the floor, the fourth-best shooting performance against KU all season. It was the second-best percentage against the Jayhawks in Big 12 play.

 

  • Guarding the 3-point shot: KU entered Monday night hitting 41 percent from beyond the arc, ranking seventh in the country and No. 1 in the Big 12. The Wildcats held KU to 2-of-13 from 3 (15 percent), the Jayhawks’ worst shooting performance of the entire season from long distance (previous worst was 20 percent against Kentucky). The Jayhawks two made 3s tied for a season low. KU didn’t make a 3 in the final 29:49 of the game, including going 0-of-8 from beyond the arc in the second half.

 

Greene, Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III, KU’s top three 3-point shooters based on percentage, went a combined 0-10 from 3. It was only the fourth game this season where Selden or Greene didn’t combine to make at least one 3-point shot between the two of them. In conference play, Greene and Selden were No. 1 and No. 3 in the Big 12, respectively, in 3-point percentage heading into Monday’s game.

 

Overall, KU shot just 39.3 percent from the floor, its second-worst shooting performance in Big 12 play and its sixth-worst field-goal percentage on the season. These numbers are surprising, because K-State had been awful on defense over its previous six games (with one exception: holding Oklahoma to 37 percent). In four of the Wildcats’ previous six games, the opponent had shot 49 percent or better from the floor. In three of those games, the opponent shot 53 percent or better. In the previous six games combined, opponents were 137-of-283 (48.4 percent) from the floor and were 34-of-94 from 3 (36 percent) during those six games.

 

  • Guarding Mason: The sophomore point guard makes KU’s offense go. Mason had scored in double figures in 24 of the Jayhawks’ previous 25 games. On Monday, he was held to a season-low four points on 1-of-8 shooting. We talk about Nigel Johnson’s night on offense, but the defensive effort he and Jevon Thomas had against Mason was terrific.

 

  • Justin Edwards: Nigel Johnson, Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson were great against KU. But Edwards play in the second half was key. The junior guard had six points, four assists, three rebounds and a key steal all on the final 12:07 of the game. When he plays aggressive and with confidence, K-State is a much better team.

 

Monday night brought some joy to K-State fans and enabled them to forget for a few hours about the struggles of the season. But it’s hard not to look at the schedule and see all of the missed opportunities. This team has proven it’s talented enough to beat good teams. But it also has proven it’s inconsistent and will lose to the bad teams.

 

What I’ll be most interested in from here on out is to see if K-State can play with the same energy and spirit it showed against KU. If the Wildcats do that, they can end the season feeling a little better about themselves. Although the question will always linger: where would they be if they’d played all season with the type of enthusiasm they displayed on Monday?

 

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