Martin disappointed with turnovers, defense

11 Jan

Frank Martin’s broad frame slumped over the elevated table in the press conference room after the Wildcats lost to the Bears. His team only scored one field goal in the final five minutes of the game, and disappointment – in the form of disbelief and disgust – was evident on the coach’s face.

“I respect the hell out of our players, but for us to be in a place where we’re fighting to protect our own court, and to not close out this game because of a comedy of plays, it’s embarrassing,” he said.

The Wildcats led by four points with 3:47 left when a pair of free throws by Brady Heslip pulled the Bears within two points, 71-69. In the following 30 seconds, Quincy Acy stole the ball from freshman guard Angel Rodriguez twice. Both instances resulted in points, and just like that the Wildcats trailed. With two minutes to play, a layup by Rodney McGruder pinched Baylor’s advantage to just one point, 74-73. His bucket would be the last field goal Kansas State made in the game, as both he and freshman forward Thomas Gipson turned the ball over in the short time before the clock expired.

The bright spot for the Wildcats was that McGruder scored a career-high 30 points in the game on 10-of-14 shooting. He was perfect from the foul line, making 8 of 8 attempts. He grabbed 6 rebounds, dished 3 assists and only turned the ball over once.

“There was a lot of focus on him,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “He’s a heck of a player and did a heck of a job all night long. We didn’t have a lot of answers for him.”

Early in the game, the Wildcats amassed a double-digit lead, but their 20 turnovers allowed the Bears to go on 18-4 runs in both the first and second halves. Baylor scored 30 of its 75 points – 40 percent – off of Kansas State giveaways.

“When they made their runs is when we didn’t play offense,” said sophomore guard Will Spradling. “We turned it over a lot more than what we have lately, and that’s something we can’t do.”

While the turnovers obviously bothered Martin, his team’s defensive performance left a sour taste in his mouth as well. It seemed like Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez contained Baylor’s Perry Jones III fairly well early on, when they worked against his post-up moves, but he gave them trouble in transition and also made shots a little farther from the basket as the game continued. He finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds.

Quincy Acy and Brady Heslip each had 13 points, and 5’10” guard Pierre Jackson scored 10 points and distributed a mind-boggling 11 assists.

Martin said his team talked about and worked on ball screen defense in preparation for the Bears, but it did not work out as he had hoped.

“Our ball screen defense was pathetic,” Martin said. “Never once did we have two guys on the same page guarding the ball screen, and that’s frustrating because we spent time on it. We talked about it. If you can’t play ball screen defense against Baylor, you’re going to have a tough time.”

While the combination of last week’s game against the Jayhawks and yesterday’s game against the Bears made Martin unhappy, he had a realistic, workmanlike take on what lies ahead for his team.

“We’re good enough to beat them, and obviously we haven’t done it two out of three times,” Martin said. “It’s disappointing we haven’t gotten it done, but [the conference season is] 18 games. We’re three games in.”

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