“I think everyone here knows what happened,” head coach Bruce Weber said after the game.
Sviatoslav Mykhailuk traveled. You know it, I know it, “Svi” knows it and everybody who watched that game knows it.
“I saw. I thought a call was going to be made but it wasn’t,” senior forward DJ Johnson said.
But then sophomore forward Dean Wade barely missed a wide-open shot from the top of the key. Then senior forward Wesley Iwundu couldn’t quite hold on to the rebound. Then Mykhailuk ran (traveled) the length of the court and made a layup and the buzzer sounded with Kansas yet again coming out on top.
I’m writing this because K-State looked good. They looked really good.
“We did a good job of staying poised,” Iwundu said. “Playing in a place like this you can let the games get away too far from you and I think older guys and even some of the younger guys did a good job of keeping their poise and just coming out and making some adjustments.”
They stayed poised indeed.
All five K-State starters scored in double digits. The same Wade that couldn’t play aggressive and was afraid to shoot the ball as recently as November scored 20 points. Iwundu did everything. He ran the offense with poise and kept this team in it. Sophomores Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown made clutch baskets. Johnson played well in the paint despite foul trouble. And freshman Xavier Sneed, playing in his first big-time game, didn’t succumb to the pressure of Allen Fieldhouse.
They went shot-for-shot with the No. 3 team in the country that has lost on their home court just six times in the last 10 years.
K-State got through their nonconference schedule with only one loss and took care of Texas in their Big 12 opener, but it felt like we could never really tell how good this K-State team actually was. They played well at times but also lost to the only decent team they played in Maryland.
After Tuesday night’s game in Lawrence, it feels like we know much more about who and what this K-State team can be. They are balanced, they have leadership, they play with poise and they can score the ball.
Obviously it’s just one game, and it is still premature to say the Wildcats are a lock for the NCAA tournament in March. But they also don’t look like a team that was predicted to finish ninth in the Big 12 before the season started.
If they continue to play the way they did Tuesday night, don’t be surprised if they make some noise the rest of this winter and spring.