Despite having the crowd and the win-streak in their favor, Texas was not able to overcome Kansas State Tuesday night, losing 71-64. As the Longhorns fell to to 14-11 (6-6 in Big 12), Kansas State brought themselves closer to an outright Big 12 title, moving to 19-5 (9-2 in Big 12). The Wildcats proved to be the better team, as they fought back from a halftime deficit and played with a resilient mentality.
WHAT TEXAS DID WELL:
- First Half Consistency: Texas had a strong first half, sticking to their game plan for the most part. They did a nice job of moving the ball around, creating opportunities both around the perimeter and inside for layups or feeds to the forwards and center. On defense, the team switched between the 2-3 zone and the press in an attempt to catch Kansas State off-guard. At some points, this caused turnovers by the Wildcats, visibly frustrating players like Bobby Brown Jr. Texas looked to be controlling the game for the first 5 minutes of the first half, giving fans a hopeful indication of a successful second half.
- Low Foul Count: Texas did not foul much in this matchup. They typically struggle with fouls, especially early, but the team was disciplined. Texas finished with 13 fouls compared to the 19 fouls of Kansas State. While they did not perform well from the free-throw line (18-26, 69.2%), the opportunities were there more for them than they were for Kansas State. If Texas learns to capitalize on these opportunities, they will put themselves in better positions to win moving forward.
WHAT TEXAS DID NOT DO WELL:
- Disappearance of the Guards: Kerwin Roach II and Courtney Ramey, who combined for 24 points in the first half, finished with a combined 3 points in the second half. This hurt the Longhorns, as this duo has combined for over 30 in the last two wins. Additionally, Roach and Ramey’s efforts to score in the second half were much more forced. One example of this was following a turnover by Roach resulting in a fast break lay up for Barry Brown Jr. Roach brought the ball back up, and straightaway, he pulled up for a three-pointer. Luckily, Dylan Osetkowski was able to dunk the rebound. But Roach’s intent was to try to make up for his mistake, which definitely encapsulated the team’s mentality in the second half.
- Second Half Shot Selection: Texas had two main offensive tactics in the second half: lob the ball inside to Sims or Hayes, and dribble around until the guards found space to take a contested shot. For the first tactic, there were successful efforts, as Hayes and Sims both converted a few lob passes for either dunks or hook shots. But once the strong defense of Kansas State caught on, they shut down these efforts, double-teaming down low in an effort to prevent the inside lob. This panned out for the Wildcats, causing turnovers. For the second tactic, this typically resulted in contested shot selection, including many shots from behind the arc. This showed in the stats, as Texas shot 21.1% from three-point range (4-19), much worse than the 39.53% that Texas averaged during their two-game win streak.
WHAT KANSAS STATE DID TO WIN:
- Hit Their Three-Point Shots: Kansas State hit 47.1% of their three-point shots (8-17), including 3 from Kamau Stokes and 3 from Xavier Sneed. Down the stretch, Dean Wade did not contribute in this category (0-3 from three-point range), but rather created opportunity for others to shine from behind the arc.
- Won the Turnover Matchup: Kansas State, who lead the conference in turnover categories, only had 9 turnovers compared to the 12 of Texas. The bulk of the Wildcats’ turnovers came in the first half, while the majority of the Longhorns’ turnovers came in the second half, once Kansas State caught onto their offensive tactics.
- Usage of Dean Wade: Dean Wade, who typically poses a threat from three-point range, instead used his mobility and instinctive skills to contribute in this matchup. His 6 assists on the night led the team, while also contributing 6 field goals from the paint and near the basket. He made a noticeable difference for the Wildcats in this competition, especially in the second half. While Barry Brown Jr. and Xavier Sneed put on impressive performances of 16 points each, Kansas State’s success largely goes to the man who did not play the last time these teams played.
Texas looks to bounce back from the loss on Saturday at 12 noon, as the Longhorns take on Oklahoma State at the Frank Erwin Center.
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