When it comes to playing in-state rival Kansas in Bramlage Coliseum, the story has been the same in three of their last four matchups for the K-State Wildcats.
Since the 2009-10 season, K-State has had the roster to compete with KU, yet the Wildcats are now 1-3 in their last four home-court meetings against the Jayhawks. Why have the Wildcats been able to snag only one victory in four meetings when KU’s average margin of victory is a mere 4 points?
It starts from beyond the arc. The Wildcats have not shot the ball from 3-point range particularly well throughout these close bouts with the Jayhawks. Last night, K-State shot the ball 30 times from 3-point range, but only nine attempts made it in the basket.
"I think even at times we had some open [3-point shots], but passed them up," said K-State head coach Bruce Weber. "We have a saying that closer is not better, but open is better."
Last year, the Wildcats shot a minuscule 22 percent from beyond the arc. It is easy to nitpick when the margin of defeat is so small, but it’s important to look at K-State’s inconsistency with shooting from the perimeter. It starts with the play of junior guard Will Spradling, who is a combined 0-10 in the past two seasons against Kansas inside of Bramlage in 3-point attempts.
Spradling, who contributed 9 points in K-State’s last home-court win against Kansas in his freshman year, has only scored a combined 10 points in his past two games in Manhattan against KU. Although not all the blame for the Wildcats’ losses can be placed on a single player, when a team lacks a superstar player, it becomes a full-team effort. The consistency has to be there.
The difference factor has also been Kansas’ senior center Jeff Withey, who has arguably been the best shot-blocker in college basketball the past two seasons. He is what makes KU’s opponents take shots beyond the arc.
What has kept K-State in the games? Their play on the defensive end. Last night, the Jayhawks were held to 59 points when they have been averaging close to 76 points per game. It was the same case for the Wildcats in their biggest win of the season over No. 8 Florida. K-State held the Gators to nearly 13 points under their season average and were able to escape with a win. It’s been a trend set by former coach Frank Martin who emphasized the importance of defense and rebounding.
John Zetmeir is a sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communication. Please send comments to [email protected]