The Kansas State Wildcats dropped a heart breaker on the road to Iowa State Tuesday night, with Royce White hitting the go-ahead basket with 1.8 seconds left in the game. White drove his defender from the top of the key to the right baseline, before pump faking and hitting a step through 12 foot floater. Kansas State never trailed during the second half being up by as many as 13 points. The Cats were lead by Thomas Gipson who scored 13pts and had 7 rebs. The Cyclones were lead by non-other than Royce White who scored 22pts to go along with 8 rebs.
Iowa State now has sole possession of 4th place (16-6, 6-3) in the Big 12 standings with K-State trailing in 5th (15-6, 4-5).
The question yet again is if and how K-State can bounce back after suffering its fourth late game loss and third in January. The Cats are amazingly a few plays away from maybe being 7-2 in the conference. If Angel would have drove to the bucket against Baylor with his left hand, would he have scored and tied the game? If K-State could have controlled a rebound in final minute against Oklahoma and last night, could the outcome have changed? Some could say the Cats aren’t getting a few breaks but you could also say they aren’t making the late plays.
A big question in last night’s game is if Frank Martin should have elected to simply foul Royce White, a terrible free throw shooter, early in the possession. The Cats also could have taken a page from Missouri’s play book, from just the night prior against Texas, and came out in a zone to take away the dribble drive.
After having a football season full of 4th quarter heroics and games turning out in K-State’s favor, the month of January has a been hard on Wildcat nation. Frank Martin teams have performed well in the month of February and the Cats will look to continue that this Saturday against Texas A&M in Manhattan. Tip off at 3pm CST.
K-State fans without a doubt will be rowdy when Iowa State makes the return game to Manhattan on Feb. 25th. Iowa State definitely got a little home cooking with the no call on Rodney McGruder’s late shot in the paint. It looked pretty clear that he was clobbered.
I don’t know, but we are about to find out. After dropping both conference games to an Oklahoma team that many had marked as the “gimmees” on the basketball schedule, everyone is wondering what to make of this year’s team. K-State (15-5, 4-4) currently has all the pieces to the puzzle in the wrong places. They’ll get a quick flash of what the overall picture is about the time someone decides to move their piece.
By no means is this a time to panic and get tight. Let’s look back to just last year when K-State was in a similar situation. K-State ended the month of January with an ugly 24pt lose in Lawrence to fall to 2-5 in the conference. K-State fans couldn’t have been more down after being picked by the coaches as the favorite to win the Big 12. The Cats would go on to win 8 of their next 9 to finish regular season play with the one lose being to Colorado, who should have made the NCAA tournament.
Fast forward back to this year. Rodney McGruder has showed he can take over a game the way Jacob Pullen did last year, but he without a doubt needs his teammates to pitch in. Will Spradling is due for a big game as he has certainly had his struggles. Spradling has missed all of his last ten 3pt attempts and is just 4-23 (17%) going back the past five games. Jamar Samuels put on 30lbs this off-season and has done very little with it. Samuels needs to become a force inside, start finishing around the bucket and STOP shooting 3 pointers.
K-State has a great opportunity to get the train back on the tracks by getting a win on the road at Iowa State tonight. The Wildcats will tip off at 8pm against a Cyclones team coming off a big home win against Kansas on Saturday. These two teams appear to be jockeying for 4th place in the league, as the top three have set themselves apart.
My 3 keys to a K-State win. 1, limit Royce White. Shocking. This will also mean fewer times the TV audience will have to hear him referred to as “Rolls Royce.” 2, Rebounds. Outside of Royce, no other Cyclone is crashing the boards. Offense rebounds and second chance points will be huge. 3, Mental mistakes. K-State needs to stop giving the ball away on offense and start making better in game decisions.
The #22/24 ranked Kansas State Wildcats moved to 4-3 in the conference and 15-4 overall, by taking down a struggling Texas Tech team on the road by a final of 69-47. K-State was lead by Martavious Irving who came off the bench to score a team high 16pts. Rodney McGruder pitched 13pts going 6-13 from the field.
Jordan Henriquez was back, from what turned out to be a one game suspension, for conduct detrimental to the team. Coach Martin showed that he was in no rush to get J.O. on the court, waiting until there was 2:59 remaining in the game before substituting him while Tech shot free throws. J.O. did manage to get on the board by knocking down a couple free throws and grabbing a rebound.
The final score along with who K-State’s leading scorer was gives a pretty good indication of how the game went. Tech is looking for any positives it can find right now in Big 12 play after falling to 0-7 with yet another lose. K-State was able to create 24 Tech turnovers, work the ball around on offensive and was never in a big rush to get a shot up. 11 players got in the scorebook for K-State, but oddly enough not Jamar Samuels who started and played 14 mins.
Texas Tech coach Billy Gillespie didn’t even bothering with raising his voice at his players, while Frank Martin opposite burned 1,000 calories just scowling. Tech somehow only had four players score and two of them were starters. Yes, only two starters scored. That includes two players who logged 36 and 28 mins. Ugh.
Kansas State is back in action on Saturday hosting an Oklahoma team who beat up on K-State already in Norman. OU gave Baylor all they could handle on Tuesday night before eventually running out of gas in the second half. The Cats are in a 5 game stretch where they will play the bottom half of the Big 12 standings, before turning right around to face the top 3 consecutively.
The Kansas State men’s basketball team (11-1) wrapped up non-conference play with a drubbing of Howard by a final score of 92-46. With students still on semester break, Cats fans still made their presence felt to cheer on the #25 ranked Wildcats. Rodney McGruder led the Cats with 14pts going 4-4 from down town while Will Spradling chipped 13 pts in going 3-6 from behind the arc.
K-State now heads into 2012 and Big 12 play with a lot of momentum but with a major pick up in competition. K-State tips off conference play this coming Wednesday against in state rival #18 Kansas in Lawrence. The Jayhawks have shown their vulnerability after falling in Kansas City, essentially a home game, to Davidson.
For K-State to be in this game, expect intense perimeter defense on KU’s guards to force with them into what has already been a season of high turnovers. Thomas Gipson and J.O. will most certainly have their hands full with Thomas Robinson, but will just need to limit his production. On the offensive end, K-State shouldn’t panic if they get out to a slow start. The Cats have shown for the most part they are second half team. If the Cats come out hot to start the game, the Jayhawks better look out.
After Kansas, the Cats will then host two of the countries remaining undefeated teams in # 8 Missouri, on Jan 7th, and #7 Baylor, on Jan 10th. The Cats are going to need the most from their fans in attendance when Mizzou rolls in, as much of Wildcat Nation will be traveling home from the Cotton Bowl. If you have tickets for the Missouri game and will not be able to attend, please find a fellow Catbacker to fill your seat and fill Bramlage Coliseum.