Get the thoughts from EMAW Online’s Mason Voth from K-State’s 73-68 road win over Oklahoma State on Saturday.
The Wildcats struggled at early points in the game and into the second half with playing smart. Markquis Nowell was turnover heavy again, giving the ball away six times by the 11:50 mark in the second half. Other errors were made by the Wildcats with giveaways. But K-State flipped the script and Nowell only had one more turnover in the game, an inconsequential one with 12 seconds remaining in the game.
Another element that the Wildcats struggled with early in the game was shot selection. I know why it happened, they didn’t want to take what they perceived to be “bad shots,” but when you play to not take bad shots, you take bad shots. The greatest evidence came when Nowell caught the ball in the second half above the top of the key and instead of pulling instantly, he pumped and came down, before deciding it was the shot and losing all his power, leaving the ball short.
Another thing I saw and didn’t like was Keyontae Johnson’s reluctance to fire from three a few times in the game, he caught it with what looked like open space and instead passed on the shot and drove or got rid of the ball.
The tide changed for the Wildcats though as they were great defensively down the stretch and avoided fouls on both offense and defense at a greater rate. The shooting became more decisive, leading to a great closing stretch by the Wildcats.
MAKE OR BREAK TECH FROM TANG
Jerome Tang went for broke as K-State cut the lead to four with 10:49 to play. David N’Guessan just took it to the rim and laid the ball in. Tang saw a window of opportunity to get in the officials’ ear on the foul situation. The Wildcats had nine fouls while Oklahoma State only had three, some of the fouls on K-State were suspect, plus missed overly-physical plays by Oklahoma State that went unchecked.
Tang clearly wanted the technical earlier in the game and was displeased with the crew led by Doug Sirmons, but the time wasn’t right. He felt his team had momentum and could withstand a few free throws from Oklahoma State and made his move. If K-State failed to grab the win, it surely would have been maligned by fans and other critics. I was always on board with what Tang did. Let OSU get their free throws, but bank on getting some calls down the stretch that would more than help make up for it. It all worked out, K-State committed just four more fouls in the game and Oklahoma State was tagged for six after the tech.
K-State outscored Oklahoma State 22-13 after the technical free throws fell for the Cowboys.
Tang’s ability to know he can take the tech and still have his team respond positively and not worry about going from four down to six down shows the trust and love this entire program has for each other. It is also nice to know that the most happy-go-lucky coach in the Big 12 can reach deep and get the fire when he needs it.
CLOSING TIME PLAYS MADE WITH “TOUGH TALENT”
One of K-State’s greatest strengths in the win over Baylor was having every single player step up and make plays, but early on K-State wasn’t getting anything outside of Johnson and Nowell. In the second half, and specifically, later in the game, every player on the floor found a role. N’Guessan protected the rim better and had key blocks, Massoud came in and knocked down a massive three to extend the lead for K-State, Desi Sills saved the day with two seconds on the shot clock with the baseline inbound from Johnson and Cam Carter helped at the free throw line.
After the game, Tang was asked about what you need more of in the Big 12 to win: talent or toughness?
Tang answered, “tough talent.” The Wildcats showcased their tough talent on Saturday to get their first road win since early January at Baylor and keep their momentum alive and well. K-State has the talent with Nowell and Johnson, as well as sneaky talent that can rise to the top at the right times. The toughness of guys like Nowell, Johnson, Sills, Carter and others can’t be questioned either.