Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Benton Smith: Mistakes prove costly as KU drops rivalry showdown

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) reacts after being called for a charge during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson (1) reacts after being called for a charge during the first half, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at Bramlage Coliseum.


Manhattan — For all that Kansas State had done well this season, particularly while putting together a six-game Big 12 winning streak heading into Tuesday night’s Sunflower Showdown with Kansas, the Wildcats’ offensive prowess couldn’t exactly be considered a point of concern.

What the visiting Jayhawks, so often road losers this season, had to worry about, though, was one of K-State’s primary sources of offense: its defense.

If the Jayhawks could avoid the turnover issues that torpedoed them in recent conference road trips to Iowa State and West Virginia, the logic went, they just may have a shot in an arena that greeted them with “FBI” chants when they took the floor before the rivalry game.

Take away K-State’s, well, takeaways, and you’ve cut off a lifeline for an often stagnant offense.

The clean brand of basketball required to beat K-State, however, didn’t make the trip west from Lawrence.

KU turned the ball over 23 times, the team’s most since 18 cough-ups in its loss at WVU. Sure enough, the Wildcats got the repeated boosts they needed to send the perennial league champions back down I-70 with a 74-67 loss.

K-State (17-5 overall, 7-2 Big 12) entered its annually most anticipated home date on the calendar having scored more than 25 percent of its points this season off of turnovers. The Wildcats followed that formula to the tune of 22 points off of KU’s 23 mistakes.

The game’s opening minutes were a tutorial of what not to do against Kansas State, as the Wildcats’ propensity for turning defense into offense popped immediately at a raucous Bramlage Coliseum.

KU turned the ball over on its opening possession when freshman Ochai Agbaji stepped out of bounds. Kamau Stokes kept to the K-State script by following up the gaffe with a 3-pointer.

The next trip down the floor, Stokes swiped a steal and took off for a layup and a 5-0 lead by plucking the ball away from freshman Quentin Grimes.

A second Stokes pilfer off of Grimes came less than two minutes later and he dished to Barry Brown for a 14-6 K-State lead 3:30 into the rivalry battle, a basket that made the home team three-for-three on turning KU mistakes into baskets.

For a while, the Jayhawks somewhat course-corrected. Among their 12 first-half turnovers, only five were the result of steals. The Jayhawks’ turnovers didn’t disappear, but their live-ball giveaways did, making it much easier to stop the Wildcats, because they had to try to find attempts versus a zone instead of sprinting to open shots in transition.

KU strangled the Wildcats’ half-court offense even further with a sly move by Bill Self, who scrapped man-to-man defense for a 2-3 zone — a strategy that played a part in one dreadful first-half stretch for the home team, which missed 12 shot attempts in a row as KU recovered from what was once a nine-point deficit.

K-State didn’t score off a turnover again until Dean Wade made a jumper a little more than a couple minutes into the second half, following a Brown steal and Devon Dotson miscue.

That sequence, though, seemed to open the floodgates.

K-State began capitalizing on blunders once again, and it often didn’t matter whether the ball was live or dead.

“We were never, ever remotely comfortable," Self, who also lamented a lack of leadership, said during his postgame press conference. "And that’s a credit to them.”

Just as the Wildcats had accomplished in the first six victories of their now seven-game conference winning streak, the program’s best since 2013, they were at their best by getting the opposing offense to play its worst.

A K-State team that headed into the matchup ranked 329th out of 351 Division 1 teams in scoring (65.1 points per game) got the easy, momentum-swinging points KU couldn’t afford to give up.

None were prettier than a Cartier Diarra swipe that he transformed into a windmill jam with 48 seconds remaining — the exclamation point and eight-point lead that sealed KU’s fate.

The flaw-filled night snapped KU’s eight-game winning streak in the Sunflower Showdown and was a reminder of how far the Jayhawks (17-6 overall, 6-4 Big 12) have to go, especially with ball security.


Bill Kackley 3 years, 10 months ago

Benton, why don't apply for a job on the Manhattan paper. You didnt once mention that many of the turnovers were caused by the K state football team pounding our kids to a pulp and not getting a forth foul called until under one minute left in second half. Discusting job of officiating.

Luke Kading 3 years, 10 months ago

I think it's time to sit Quentin Grimes. Start somebody else - Moore, Lightfoot, Garrett when he's healthy. Moore has at least shown a pulse the last two games and has made some good passes leading to Agbaji dunks. Lightfoot will get some offensive rebounds and maybe take a charge once in a while. Grimes does essentially nothing to impact the game outside of hitting a couple threes, and he's hardly consistent at that. His panic shot with the shot clock around 10 with 4 minutes or so to go was just awful. He might as well have just turned the other way and passed it to K State to get their fast break started.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 10 months ago

lightfoot won't play more than pickup games after ku. he needs to buck up and get minutes instead of one sentence injuries.

Brianna Zaleski 3 years, 10 months ago

Quentin Grimes was next level bad tonight. I’d like to know how many points we were negative with him on the floor. Has to be 8-10.

Mallory Briggans 3 years, 10 months ago

I m curios why when we got down 8 or so in the 1st half Self switched to a zone we went on a run to end the half ……………………..SECOND half we go back to man to man Kstate takes the lead back and kept it …..The zone was working why not stick with it . And Vick sat a lot in the first wasn't hurt wasn't in foul trouble Self decided to sit him . I felt this team was good enough to win the Big 12 but the decisions on the court and the decisions by Self this season now a promising season doesn't look so promising.

Darrel Stice 3 years, 10 months ago

They came back out in the zone after halftime, but KSU made some adjustments and figured it out. It had pretty much lost its effect, so Self went back to man-to-man. Either way, we were being outplayed and outhustled, making either defense equally ineffective.

Phil Leister 3 years, 10 months ago

I'll echo the couple comments from above - Quentin is bad. Maybe bad is overstating it, as he looks like he could be a top 150 recruit from last year's recruiting class. But he is bad relative to the hype, relative to being considered "the most complete guard we've ever had here". He is seemingly always panicked, looks lost, turns the ball over, and has no touch when he drives the ball. His first banked three was so, so far off the mark that it actually went in. He's got to be the most disappointing-relative-to-the-hype recruit in the Bill Self era.

Phil Leister 3 years, 10 months ago

A single rebound, no assists, 4 fouls, FIVE TURNOVERS. With two made threes. Pathetic.

David Howell 3 years, 10 months ago

I've been down on Grimes most of the year. Short of the two 3 pointers, when he was on the floor nothing good seemed to happen.

It was so bad I texted my Dad and said "Was Grimes seriously a top level HS player" ......... Dad said "I think so" ..........

At this point we are stuck with Grimes for ALL 4 years ! Get Garrett back and Grimes can sit on bench behind Lightfoot and Moore.

Allin Herring 3 years, 10 months ago

Not sure he is in the Josh Shelby class yet but is quickly joining the club. Remember Josh was the "Number one" recruit in the country Grimes was not. But I do agree the press really over hyped this guy to the point I will no longer respect their views about player talent.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 10 months ago

well, we are not really a first place quality team. With all of our freshman, 3 or 4th place in the big 12 is where we belong. next year, with all that experience, and Dok back, we should be able to contend for the conference title again. I mean all good things come to an end. We shall return!

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 10 months ago

He should. He needs a complete season or he can just face learning a few new european languages.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 10 months ago

I totally agree. Also he needs to develop a shot beside the dunk and he has to get his FT % up, no NBA team wants a hack a shack.

John Strayer 3 years, 10 months ago

This turnover issue is getting rather tiresome...I thought early on in Bill Self KU career that his teams valued the ball...hell lately it seems they couldn't careless. IF you asked me...K-State looked more like a Bill Self team than KU...tough D and toughness all around.

How many times did Dedric end up on the ground because he's tripping over feet and had no balance?

Phil Leister 3 years, 10 months ago

Dedric is a helluva player who is extremely unathletic and soft. My grandma could knock him off his position.

Bj Cassady 3 years, 10 months ago

I am a KU fan but give credit where credit is due, we were out-coached, out-played. Our guys are young theirs are mostly seniors that is a huge difference. Theirs were tougher ours are soft. They wanted it more than our guys. They were better. We are a top 20 team but not much better.

Dale Koch 3 years, 10 months ago

I am a diehard fan and dispise the KSU fans. The announcers were embarrassed and didn’t know how to respond when the game came on the air and the fans were chanting f**k KU. Such low lifes. Comments about Vick. I truly think he is a major problem for this team. Self can’t stand the kid and no matter what he does it doesn’t change hie pathetic attitude he brings 3 out of 4 games. You could see it on ksu’s first possession when Wade made that 3 and Vick didn’t even try to get out on him. Wasn’t long before HCBS pulled him. My only question is why on earth did he play him at all the second half. Mitch and Moore were much more aggressive in the zone. The zone did not work in the second half as well but I still think Lightfoot and Charlie cared more about the game then Vick ever did. Their hustle on defense and Mitch’s ability to rebound far out weighed Vick’s. Enough venting on Vick.

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 3 years, 10 months ago

used to be a huge vick fan but this year no. he's proved he plays nba style with standing around, not moving and weaving. not a team player, not a leader. hopefully he got a free degree at least.

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