Well, that makes 37 out of 39 over the Aggies from the Sunflower State. It was a good win for the Hawks and hopefully a good sign of things to come for Tyshawn - I didn't much care for his freshman wall, though we all knew he'd have to hit it at some point.
Keys to the game from the preview...
There is no better way to take the wind out of a lesser team's sails than to bury them early. If we got out of the gates fired up (we will) and we use it to build an early double-digit lead, we'll put the pressure on them to respond. And while they may be able to answer the bell, they haven't exactly dazzled on the road (see: losing at 6-10 Oregon). Much like us, they struggle when out of their comfort zone and they don't have the skill set or athleticism to play equalizer. However, they just played Oklahoma close – so if we let them hang around and build confidence, the pressure shifts over to our side in a very big, bad way.
I'd say we nailed this one with that whole 18-0 thing over the first few minutes. Hell, it was 9-0 before they even attempted a shot. It's a shame we let them bring it back so close, but a credit to them for being aggressive and getting to the line to put the pressure on.
K-State isn't necessarily a plodding, slog it out kind of team. But given the location of the game, a fast pace should play to our favor. They don't have the athletes or the skill set to keep up if we're pressuring them and converting easy points in transition. Our half court offense certainly has it's moments, but I like us in transition a whole lot more. And just as importantly, I like our pressure defense much more than when we're set in a half court. Hell, this is what we did against Tennessee – who had a better athlete at nearly every position – and we still kept them at arms length throughout.
Another bullseye. We scored a very easy 87 and a big reason was our aggressive tempo leading to layups or kickouts for open looks. We shot the ball great last night, but I'd contend that any time we get that many good looks we'll shoot it that way or better. Aside from some truly horrific defense to start the second half, I have no complaints.
Control the boards
As they were last year, the Wildcats are exceptional at cleaning up on the offensive glass. They have very few skilled inside players, but they have just enough athleticism and hustle to get easy buckets for themselves. If this is limited, they'll struggle. Unfortunately, this is also something we struggle at limiting. We've allowed far too many offensive boards against teams not as adept at getting them and it has hurt us badly. Cole will hold up his end, but we need the Morris' best effort and we'll really need Brady, Mario 7 Travis to keep a body on Samuels and Sutton.
Well, two out of three ain't bad. They out-boarded us 37 to 34, which is fine, especially considering Cole was so limited the second half. More frustrating was the disparity on the offensive end - which they won 16-7. A tip of the cap to them for that one, but we need to block out better. A missed shot was their best offense, and that shouldn't happen.
And finally, from the comments we had GingerBalls' concern about how we'd attack the zone. They didn't play a ton of it per se, but it was used and even in their man they liked to sag down on Cole (only 6 shots) allowing for some very big lanes to the hole. And as you know, Sherron and Tyshawn took advantage, and as a result, we had a ton of easy shots that we mostly converted.
There may be a bit more to come on this later, but for now just be happy with a solid win. The game really couldn't have gone much more to script and now we just need to figure out how to take this act on the road. I can't think of a better place to start than Boulder.