Tag Archives: Texas basketball

Wildcats lose to Longhorns in Austin in one-sided foulfest

11 Feb

The Longhorns shot 48 free throws. The Wildcats shot 12 free throws – and none in the second half. Predictably, Texas parlayed its enormous advantage at the foul line into a come-from-behind 75-64 victory in Austin.

The Wildcats led 40-27 at halftime but ended up falling to 6-6 in conference play in a stunning loss. While players did not speak to the media, coach Frank Martin credited Texas for attacking and defending their own court and quickly turned the focus to the future.

“We have the same opportunity on Monday,” Martin said.

The Wildcats have just the remainder of today and Sunday to recover from the loss and prepare for their Big Monday matchup with No. 10 Kansas. In the teams’ first meeting this season, which coincided with the beginning of Big 12 play, the Jayhawks delivered a resounding defeat of the Wildcats, 67-49, in Allen Fieldhouse.

As such is the case, Kansas State has a powerful distraction from its collapse and subsequent loss on Saturday afternoon. Against Texas, the Wildcats made 51.9 percent of their shots in the first half but only 32.3 percent of their shots in the second half. Conversely, the Longhorns made 28 percent of their shots in the first half and continued to convert 68.8 percent in the second half.

While the foul discrepancy was outlandish, the differences in shooting percentages clarify the picture. The Wildcats had a variety of scoring in the first half with Adrian Diaz dominating inside early while Rodney McGruder and Will Spradling found some rhythm from the outside. Myck Kabongo exploited Kansas State’s defense often early, but the Wildcats went on a 21-6 run to end the half with a 13-point lead.

In the second half, Texas jumped out to a 16-4 run to pull within 44-43 of the Wildcats. Kansas State fought the advances for awhile, but eventually the Longhorns took a 56-54 lead and never relinquished it. Neither McGruder nor Spradling scored, and the Wildcats’ big men played limited minutes because of the foul trouble.

J’Covan Brown scored 23 points, and Alex Wangmene added 15 points and 13 rebounds. Angel Rodriguez led Kansas State with 15 points.

Wildcats “own Texas” again, 84-80

19 Jan

MANHATTAN, Kan. – On a Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats escaped with an 84-80 win over Texas despite missing 7 of 10 free throws in the last minute and 14 seconds of the game.

“We had a chance to win it,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We’ve played enough games now we should be able to handle it.”

Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 33 points in the game. Jamar Samuels scored 14, and Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling each added 11.

The penetration of the lane by guards and persistence of the big men gave the Wildcats 39 opportunities at the foul line. Incredibly, taking advantage of just 21 of those would be enough.

For Texas, J’Covan Brown – who had been leading the league in scoring – got off to a slow start, scoring just five points in the first half before coming alive in the second to finish with 22.

Sheldon McClellan provided a steadier presence throughout the game and ended up with 19 points. Brown made a 3-pointer and a layup to bring the Longhorns within three points with 30 seconds left, but it would not be enough.

“They simply overpowered us inside,” Barnes said. “Not only their post guys, but their guards were able to get pretty deep with us.”

The Wildcats did not necessarily shoot out of the gate to start the game, but nine minutes into the first half, Kansas State went on an 11-0 run that began with three consecutive 3-pointers – two from McGruder from the baseline in front of the band, and another from Spradling on the opposite side. The treys gave the Wildcats a 29-18 lead.

Myck Kabongo briefly interrupted the Wildcats’ momentum with an old-fashioned three-point play, but a 3-pointer from Samuels and acrobatic layup by Martavious Irving in traffic gave Kansas State a 15-point advantage.

Another basket by Kabongo cut the Wildcats’ lead to 36-23, and Clint Chapman turned aggressive post play into seven straight points with two buckets and three free throws. After an outside shot by McClellan, Texas trailed only 36-32 with four minutes to play in the half.

Four consecutive missed free throws for the Wildcats – two by Victor Ojeleye and one each by Angel Rodriguez and Samuels – stilted the offense and gave way to eight unanswered points by the Longhorns, and Texas took a 40-38 lead.

The Wildcats would reclaim the lead before halftime, but even with only five points from Brown, the Longhorns went into halftime down just one point, 43-42.

McGruder, who scored the Wildcats’ first basket and totaled 16 points in the first half, got Kansas State off to a good start in the second half as well. His drives into the lane yielded five points on six free throw attempts early, creating a six-point separation in favor of Kansas State.

Down the stretch, Texas cut the lead to two points on five occasions before the midpoint of the second half, but Kansas State answered each time, increasing the deficit to four nearly every time it scored.

McGruder captained the Wildcats’ charge to pull away from the Longhorns with a bucket that would give him 29 points with six minutes to play. Thomas Gipson went strong to the rim and collected a free throw and a bucket on consecutive possessions to give Kansas State a 75-68 lead with 3:51 to play.

Free throws by Alexis Wangmene cut the gap to five points, but Texas had no answers defensively, and a free throw by Irving on one possession and a bucket by him on the following one gave Kansas State an 80-73 lead with 1:14 to play.

While Brown would get a few shots to go at the end, Martin seemed happy with his team’s defensive effort overall.

“I was pretty pleased how we stuck to our disciplines down the stretch,” he said. “We ran offense, and we got the right guys to the foul line.”

With the win, the Wildcats moved to 13-4 and 2-3 in Big 12 play. In their first three conference games, they played three Top 25 teams.


Big 12 Farewell – Basketball Edition

29 Mar

As the elimination of Kansas by Virginia Commonwealth snuffed out the last hope of the Big 12 conference being represented in the 2011 Final Four, here’s a look at the seasons of all the teams in the league. Collectively, the five Big 12 teams given March Madness berths went went 5-5 in this year’s tournament. Keep in mind: this which just ended is the last season that the Big 12 will have 12 teams, at least for the foreseeable future, as Nebraska is leaving for the Big 10 and Colorado is joining the Pac-10.

Kansas: 3-1 in the NCAA tournament, 14-2 Big 12, 35-3 overall In four games of March Madness, the Jayhawks, a  No. 1 seed, never faced a team seeded higher than 9. In the first round, they played 16-seed Boston University, then moved on to face 9-seed Illinois. Because of upsets elsewhere in its region, Kansas faced 12-seed Richmond and then 11-seed Virginia Commonwealth. It looked like the easiest possible route to another national championship. Enter the most colossal upset of the tournament so far. Of course, the Jayhawks are still the Jayhawks, and if the Morris twins stick around for their senior season, the team could make it as far or farther in 2012.

Texas: 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, 13-3 Big 12, 28-8 overall The Longhorns escaped the distinction of being an early upset with an 85-81 victory over 13-seed Oakland but lost in the waning seconds of its next game, a one-point heartbreaker against Arizona. There was discussion of a questionable call at the end of the game, but here’s my take on that: How many free throws did Texas miss? How many shots did Texas miss? How many turnovers did Texas commit? Each one of those was a missed opportunity. If those had been taken advantage of, the game might not have needed to come down to the final play anyway. While there are certainly bad calls on occasion, officiating is never an excuse for losing, in my opinion. Next season, Texas will be a younger team, as year’s squad had five seniors, but with the leadership of Rick Barnes and the older players that remain, the Longhorns will likely be a tournament team again in 2012.

Texas A&M: 0-1 in the NCAA tournament, 10-6 Big 12, 24-9 overall The Aggies had a very nice season, getting off to a 16-1 start. In Big 12 play, though, the team went on several skids when faced with competition from the better half of the league. It lost four of five games through January and early February, and it lost four of six to end the season. Texas A&M received a bid to the tournament but lost to 10-seed Florida State in the first round. There’s potential here; it will be interesting to see whether the Aggies can continue the momentum of this season with a repeat performance in six months or so.

Kansas State: 1-1 in the NCAA tournament, 10-6 Big 12, 23-11 overall It’s hard to describe the Wildcats’ season without using the roller coaster cliche, considering the team began the season ranked No. 3 in the country and then completely fell out of the rankings as the team’s seniors were suspended, two players quit the team, and K-State started the conference schedule 1-4 … only to rebound with a six-game winning streak to finish the season and receive a 5-seed in the Big Dance. There will be questions about next year’s team, as it will be without Jacob Pullen for the first time in four years, but there were questions about this year’s team, too, and it didn’t turn out badly.

Missouri: 0-1 in the NCAA tournament, 8-8 Big 12, 23-11 overall The “Will he stay or will he go?”  merry-go-round has finally ground to a halt in Columbia. Head coach Mike Anderson declined a contract extension from the school in favor of taking the same job at the University of Arkansas, where the coach spent 17 years as an assistant under Nolan Richardson and won a national championship in 1994. Leaving gracefully is a hard thing to do, and whether Anderson did so is hard to say. At least, though, he will be somewhere he wants to be, and Missouri can move on to a coach who definitely wants to be in Columbia and is not distracted by the possibilities of going elsewhere.

Colorado: 8-8 Big 12, 24-13 overall The Buffaloes have been recognized as one of those teams – every year, it’s the same story – that should have been included in the tournament field but was not. They beat Kansas State three times this season, and they also vanquished Texas and Missouri – all of whom made it into the tournament easily. If you look at the Colorado home page on ESPN.com, you’ll see a video clip labeled “Dick Vitale on the teams snubbed by the NCAA tournament” and articles in the news section with titles like “How to improve tourney selection process.” More than likely, being a No. 1 seed in the NIT was little consolation. If head coach Tad Boyle and next year’s team (minus the six seniors it had this season) continue on this way, I’d be surprised if the Buffaloes get left out of the tourney in 2012.

Nebraska: 7-9 Big 12, 19-13 overall The Huskers also had an up-and-down season, and like the Wildcats, they struggled some on the road and were nearly unbeatable at home. In Nebraska’s last seven games of this season, it played two ranked teams – Texas and Missouri. It won both those games … but lost the other four. The Huskers lived up to that Big 12 stereotype of being able to beat any team on any given day, but it didn’t happen often enough.

Baylor: 7-9 Big 12, 18-13 overall The Bears had two wins over ranked opponents this season … only it was really just one opponent, Texas A&M, whom they beat in overtime in College Station and by seven points in Waco. Baylor’s on-court issues mirrored those off the court. There was LaceDarius Dunn, mentioned in conjunction with assault (later cleared by a grand jury), and just recently it was decided by the NCAA that freshman Perry Jones -who averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season – will have to miss five games at the beginning of next season if he stays. While the Baylor administration is arguing that it’s getting a raw dealer (see Cam Newton), it is what it is. It could be awhile before the Bears can piece together a decent season.

Oklahoma State: 6-10 Big 12, 20-14 overall For all their struggles, the Cowboys came within four points of a five-game winning streak to end the season. They beat Texas Tech and Baylor in Stillwater, lost 64-61 at Oklahoma, defeated Nebraska 53-52 back in Stillwater, and finished out the regular season with a loss to Kansas by a single point, 63-62, in Lawrence. Tiny-but-mighty guard Keiton Page will be the team’s only senior next season, and five players will be juniors, so depending on who gets playing time, the youth of the team might lead to some inconsistencies.

Texas Tech: 5-11 Big 12, 13-19 overall Honestly, I really like Pat Knight. Having talked to him at Big 12 media day in Kansas City and listened to him at K-State post game press conference this season, I think he has some serious understanding of the game of basketball. With that said, he stated at the beginning of this season that after three seasons, it was a “get-an-extension or get-fired type of year” for him.We all know how that ended, and now Billy Gillispie has signed a five-year deal as head coach of the Red Raiders. According to an ESPN report on the hiring, Gillispie has a good reputation in Texas because before he coached at Kentucky, he helped rebuild the programs of UTEP and Texas A&M. However, he has had his share of problems – if he gets a fourth DUI, as ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb pointed out, his five-year stay with the Red Raiders could be much shorter.

Oklahoma: 5-11 Big 12, 14-18 overall The Sooners’ season ended with a 20-point loss to then-No. 10 Texas, and head coach Jeff Capel was promptly fired. Blake Griffin, recruited by Capel and now an NBA star because of his incredible dunks, contacted ESPN.com to express his feelings about the matter, saying that while he did not profess to know everything about basketball, he recognized Capel as a great coach and felt the university made a mistake by firing him.

Iowa State: 3-13 Big 12, 16-16 By the record, there is no recourse but to assume the Cyclones were bad this year. Maybe more than bad; 3-13 sounds more like it fits into the category of “awful.” If you dig just a bit deeper though, you see a glimmer of hope. Three of Iowa State’s Big 12 games went into overtime; many more the Cyclones lost by single digits. It was head coach Fred Hoiberg’s first season, and the team still challenged the vast majority of its opponents; it wasn’t like the Cyclones rolled over for anyone. It may take a couple years (especially with a considerable number of players graduating now) but this team could be a sleeper down the road.

What Goes Around Comes Around

6 Mar

A week before the NCAA tournament’s Selection Sunday, the Big 12 league office announced this season’s award winners. Among those were Kansas State guards Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder. While the news about Pullen is far from shocking, it was a bit more surprising to see McGruder on the list, even though it really shouldn’t be.

Pullen is the first player to be recruited to the Wildcats by head coach Frank Martin and stay at K-State all four years. Certainly, it has been a mutually beneficial relationship. The senior is only the second player in Wildcat history to eclipse the 2,000-point mark, and he was the only first-team repeat selection from last season to this season. Oh, and his selection was unanimous.

McGruder, selected to the third team, has earned every bit of that recognition. While some of the older guys get most of the attention and talk more in press conferences and such, this sophomore has quietly made a huge impact on this team, for much of the season leading the squad in both rebounds and three-pointers. McGruder has been Mr. Consistent this season, the only player to start all 31 games. He scored in double figures in 21 of those.

Player of the Year went to KU’s Marcus Morris, and Coach of the Year went to his coach Bill Self. Texas’ Tristan Thompson earned Freshman of the Year, while his teammate Dogus Balbay won Defensive Player of the Year. Newcomer of the Year went to MU’s Ricardo Ratliffe, while Baylor’s Quincy Acy and Colorado’s Levi Knutson shared the Sixth Man Award.

Looking at the honors across the board, it’s interesting to see that the Wildcats are in the company of KU and Texas as far as award-winning players. In just a few days, we’ll get to see just how much all those awards are worth.

Thrice as Nice: Three Reasons Why the Wildcats Will Win (or Won’t)

28 Feb

While predictions aren’t my favorite form of journalism, they certainly aren’t unheard of. I don’t pretend to know who is going to win this evening, but here are three factors that favor each team going into tonight’s game. Feel free to take them into consideration for your pre-game discussions with friends and foes alike.

“We Own Texas” – Why the Wildcats Will Win

1) In the same way that Texas has nearly always found a way to beat Nebraska, K-State often pulls out the upset over the Longhorns. Whether that’s psychological or just coincidental in recent years, it’s definitely been a trend. Either way, the Wildcats aren’t going to be walking into this game intimidated. They’re on a four-game winning streak that included two top-25 teams.

As head coach Frank Martin said, this team has been through every possible emotion over the course of this season. It’s been rattled by all sorts of surprises, but players say the locker room is more united than ever. Bottom line: I’ve got to think K-State’s confidence gives the team an edge here.

2) The Wildcats’ senior point guard is averaging almost 30 points per game since the epic victory over Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum, but he is not the only offensive weapon for K-State. Sophomore Rodney McGruder has been Mr. Consistent (apologies if that is already a title for someone else) and leads the team in rebounding as a guard.

Losing forwards Wally Judge and Freddy Asprilla necessitated a change in the offense, and that change has worked well so far. As assistant coach Brad Underwood explained it, instead of attacking the rim with a big guy parked in the paint, the Wildcats are doing it by drawing defenders out away from the basket and then sending players cutting toward the hoop. Statistical evidence of success? “Our assist numbers are through the roof … That means that there’s ball movement, players cutting, players playing together,” Martin said. Bottom line: The Wildcats have a chance because their new offense allows better ball movement.

3) Hustle and work ethic have not really been an issue for this team – mainly because Martin yanks from the lineup anyone who is slacking off. I’m sure the Longhorns have plenty of desire as well, but right now, the Wildcats need this win more. There was talk of them not even getting into the NCAA tournament, where Texas has been in first place in the Big 12 all season long. K-State has to have a win to bolster their resume for good seeds in the Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament. If the Wildcats can stay in the game, where it comes down to who wants it more, I think they have the advantage.

“Don’t Mess with Texas” – Why the Wildcats Won’t Win

1) Martin said Texas is the most physical team on the Wildcats’ schedule. Depending on what area of the court that physicality takes place, it could be difficult for K-State to contend with some of the bigger bodies on the Longhorns’ roster. If it comes down to banging and bruising in the paint, that scenario favors Texas. Really, K-State only has three forwards – Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, and Jordan Henriquez-Roberts. (Victor Ojeleye hasn’t played much recently, and Nino Williams is out after some concussions early on this season.) Because of that limited supply of big guys, the Wildcats don’t have many fouls to give, and mentally it’s tougher to be aggressive when you know it’ll be hard for your team to replace you if you foul out or have to go to the bench.

2) After K-State played Kansas in Lawrence, right after the Jayhawks had lost to Texas, Martin joked that he asked Bill Self to stop losing before K-State played the Jayhawks because the Wildcats always seem to encounter “the pissed-off version” of the team. Now, Texas is in a situation similar to what Kansas was at that point: had been dominant thus far, had lost to a team it could have beaten, and was returning to its home court. Martin said this season that he’d rather play teams when they’re “fat and comfortable” than when they’re on a bit of a skid. So, although this applies to K-State some too, the redemption factor goes to Texas.

3) The game is in Austin. It’s as simple as that. The Wildcats have struggled on the road this season, as eight of the team’s nine losses have come outside the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum. While giving a home court advantage to the home team seems ridiculously redundant, I think it’s appropriate to mention considering K-State’s away-from-home troubles over the last few months.