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The Wrap Up: Big 12 basketball Game 6 recap and analysis

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at West Virginia

With eighteen games on the Big 12 men’s basketball slate we’ll break down each set of games upon completion. Today it’s a review of the sixth set of games in the Big 12 Conference, played on Jan. 15-17 (rankings in parenthesis in standings are AP).

BIG 12 STANDINGSConf.All
Kansas (10)5-115-3
Texas Tech (8)4-215-3
West Virginia (6)4-215-3
Oklahoma (4)4-214-3
Kansas State3-313-5
Texas3-312-6
TCU (24)2-414-4
Baylor2-412-6
Oklahoma State2-412-6
Iowa State1-510-7

 

Results

Monday, Jan. 15
Kansas 71, West Virginia 66
Baylor 76, Oklahoma State 60
Tuesday, Jan. 16
Kansas State 87, Oklahoma 69
Wednesday, Jan. 17
Texas 67, Texas Tech 58
TCU 96, Iowa State 73

NEXT GAMES (all times CST unless noted)

Saturday, Jan. 20
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas Tech at Iowa State, 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
Texas at West Virginia, 2 p.m. EST (CBS)
TCU at Kansas State, 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Baylor at Kansas, 5 p.m. (ESPN)

Superlatives

20-point games: 30 — Manu Lecomte (Baylor); 26 — Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU); 24 — Barry Brown (Kansas State); 21 — Dean Wade (K-State), JD Miller (TCU); 20 — Trae Young, (Oklahoma), Kerwin Roach II (Texas).
10-rebound games: 11 — Mo Bamba (Texas), Kenrich Williams (TCU); 10 — Mark Vital (BU), Yankuba Sima (Oklahoma State), Sagaba Konate (West Virginia).
5-assist games: 17 — Alex Robinson (TCU); 8 — Mark Vital (BU); 7 — Dean Wade (K-State), Matt Coleman (Texas); 6 — Devonte’ Graham (Kansas), Nick Weiler-Babb (Iowa State), Trae Young (OU); 5 – Svi Mykhailiuk (KU), Cartier Diarra (K-State), Barry Brown (K-State).
4-block games: 5 — Mo Bamba (Texas), Sagaba Konate (WV)
Double-doubles: Kenrich Williams (TCU), 11 points, 11 rebounds; Mo Bamba (Texas), 15 points, 11 rebounds; Sagaba Konate (WV), 16 points, 10 rebounds.

The Starting 5

Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas: A team-leading 17 points, most of which came in the final six minutes as the Jayhawks rallied to defeat West Virginia.
Manu Lecomte, Baylor: He scored 30 points, including 7 3-pointers, to lead Baylor to their second league win.
Barry Brown, Kansas State: 24 points, 5 assists and hella-good defense on OU’s Trae Young.
Mo Bamba, Texas: Back to his usual tricks — 15 points, 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. It was his eighth double-double of the season.
Alex Robinson, TCU: Only scoring 8 points is just fine when you dish out a school-record 17 assists.

The Sixth Man

Kelvin Roach II, Texas: In his first game back from injury Roach came off the bench, played 29 minutes and dropped 20 points on the Red Raiders.

 

The West Virginia-Texas Tech fallout

Need a primer on what happened during the West Virginia-Texas Tech game and the fallout that resulted? Let us help.

The Games

Kansas 71, West Virginia 66: For the first 30 minutes of this game it looked like West Virginia was in control and would stay in control. Mountaineer center Sagaba Konate set the tone early with some huge blocked shots, including his second of the game.


Konate ended up with five blocked shots in the first half. He was seriously dominant. He was helped by the fact that Kansas’ big man, Udoka Azubuike, got into foul trouble early and missed a good portion of the first half on the bench. During that time, the Jayhawks had no rim protection and the Mountaineers could work inside or outside with its offense. The Jayhawk offense was limited by Konate’s presence inside. Were they intimidated? Maybe. But Kansas wasn’t shooting well, either. In fact, the Jayhawks’ 28 first-half points were their fewest in the first half of any game this season. They committed 10 first-half turnovers. “Press Virginia” had them down by 13 at the break and at one point had the Jayhawks down by 16 points.

Konate ended up with a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but he didn’t block another shot after the first half. And, we didn’t really know it at the time, but the Mountaineers were going to have a horrible game behind the 3-point line, 5-of-27. That became a factor later in the game.

Kansas wasn’t doing much of anything well after the first half but things started turning slowly in the second half. They adjusted to West Virginia’s pressure and limited their turnovers (just four in the second half). Meanwhile, the Jayhawks ratcheted up their defensive pressure and eventually forced 11 second-half West Virginia turnovers. Kansas lost Azubuike to foul trouble again with about 13 minutes left and fouled out late. He ended up with 10 points and 9 rebounds. But Kansas, despite the adjustments, still struggled to get much offense going. That is, until this play.


It was a solid defensive play by Devonte’ Graham, who finished with 16 points and 6 assists. His layup made it a 55-47 game and he drew the foul from West Virginia’s Jevon Carter (my tweet ended up being wrong; it was a 26-11 run for the Jayhawks to end the game). Either way the steal and three-point play sparked the Jayhawks. Graham got it going and Svi Mykhailiuk got it going big time. The Mountaineers had done a great job limiting the Big 12’s best 3-point shooter. But that all ended down the stretch. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help close the gap and his layup gave the Jayhawks the lead for good, 65-64, with 1:45 left. He then hit two free throws to push the lead to three points.
Mykhailiuk ended up with a team-leading 17 points, but those points down the stretch were so key. This was not a game Kansas should have won in my humble opinion. But in the second half West Virginia’s inability to continue to impact Kansas defensively was the beginning of the end for the Mountaineers. That, combined with Kansas’ upturn in shooting, helped lead KU to the win.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Kansas came back. After all they’ve won 13 straight Big 12 titles and last year in Lawrence the Jayhawks rallied from 14 points down in the final three minutes to beat the Mountaineers in overtime. Somehow, the Jayhawks find a way. And guess who’s leading the Big 12 after six games? Yep, Kansas.

Two other notes out of this game. Kansas guard Lagerald Vick did not start, but played solid minutes and scored 9 points. Vick not starting was a coach’s decision and not related to injury. West Virginia freshman Teddy Allen did not play at all. The freshman, who was becoming a huge bench option for the Mountaineers, appears to have lost playing time to Esa Ahmad, who just returned from academic suspension and scored 15 points on Monday night.

Baylor 76, Oklahoma State 60: Baylor guard Manu Lecomte has been inconsistent on offense in Big 12 action this season, and that’s one of the reasons the Bears have struggled. Monday night against Oklahoma State was not one of those nights, though the Bears had to wait until the second half to see Lecomte heat up. He scored 30 points, including seven 7-pointers, but 25 of those points came in the second half as he helped the Bears pull away from a pesky Cowboys squad.


This came on the heels of Lecomte going 0-fot-7 from the 3-point line against Iowa State on Saturday. So that was a huge bounce-back. With Lecomte firing away, the assists came from an unlikely source — Mark Vital. The forward led all players with eight assists. In fact, Vital did much of the dirty work inside that Baylor needed to secure this one, as he also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Oklahoma State’s offense just flickered on Monday, especially in the second half where it scored only 33 points. No starter reached double figures. The Cowboys’ leading scorer was Cameron McGriff with 16 points. Tavarius Shine added 14 points in 25 minutes and it may be time to get him back in the starting lineup after his wrist injuries (he came off the bench on Saturday in his first game after the injury). The Cowboys shot 40 percent, but only shot 52 times as Baylor’s zone slowed down the game. The Cowboys also committed 14 turnovers and were outrebounded by five. This was a bad loss given their rally to beat Texas on Saturday.

 
Kansas State 87, Oklahoma 69: This is the game tape everyone else in the Big 12 is going to watch. Call it, “This is how you slow down Trae Young.”

That’s what Kansas State did Tuesday night. They slowed Young down. The man who entered the game with 14 straight games of 25 or more points was “held” to 20 points by the Wildcats. How did they do it?

Step 1: Designate one player to defend Young at all times. That became K-State’s Barry Brown, who scored 24 points and has now scored at least 21 points in five of his last seven games. Brown pressured Young when he had the ball. When Young gave up the ball, Brown never left his side and did everything possible, short of pinning him to the floor, to make sure he didn’t get the ball back in his hands. This included ignoring help-side responsibilities when the ball was on the opposite side of the floor.

Step 2: Help and recover on all pick-and-roll action involving Young. I’ve seen teams try different things, with zone and help-and-switch being the most popular. They tend to work for a while, but eventually Young figures out how to adjust and goes off. Help and recover is a tough ask for any team because of Young’s quickness. You’re usually asking a bigger defender, a forward or center, to take on cutting off Young’s lane to the basket just long enough for the guard to recover. In many cases the big man can handle that for a step, maybe two, before the speed factor takes over. If the guard doesn’t recover quick enough then it may as well be a switch and the advantage goes to Young.
Here’s an illustration below.


It’s a simple plan, but it requires pin-point execution and K-State had that for most of the night. Brown harassed Young with the ball in his hand. When the pick-and-roll action came Dean Wade, Makol Mawien and Xavier Sneed were equal to the task of staying with Young long enough to let Brown recover. This presented Young and the offense with a couple of problems. Young had difficulty driving to the basket before Brown recovered. The larger players also made it hard for Young to pass to the rolling player off the pick. As the game went on Young became less aggressive off the pick, drifting out to the 3-point line instead of driving to the hoop. The pick setters, as the night went on, executed their rolls less aggressively as it became clear that Young was having trouble getting them the ball. K-State won because they made Young, and OU’s offense as a result, less aggressive. But it all started with how the Wildcats defended Young.

K-State had a great night. Four players hit double figures. In addition to Brown, Wade dropped in 21, Sneed 13 and Cartier Diarra had 16 points. Even though Diarra is only in the lineup because Kamau Stokes is out with an injury, there’s been a sea change in K-State’s offense. Stokes was a great facilitator and could score, but Diarra is certainly looking for his shot first more often, and he is dishing the rock (he had five assists) while doing so. It’s made the offense more balanced, both in scoring and in facilitating (on Tuesday Wade also had six assists and Brown had five). The win was K-State’s first win over a ranked team this season and will surely boost their resume for the NCAA Tournament. It’s not a given, but it will certainly help.

The Wildcats also found a novel approach to curtailing OU’s transition game, which is the best in the country — shoot the ball really well. With a 56.5/52.9/100.0 line for field goals/3-pointers/free throws, the Sooners couldn’t run the transition game they wanted in part because there weren’t enough missed baskets to trigger the transition game.
Young still led the Sooners with 20 points, and that was part of the problem as well, considering Young shot 2-of-10 from the 3-point line. No one stepped up enough to fill the offensive void (Rashard Odomes had 16 points and Brady Manek had 12). Young further exacerbated the problem with a career-high 12 turnovers. It’s time to talk about that as a deficiency in his game. ESPN’s color commentator Jason Capel, kept saying Young’s loose handle and passing was “uncharacteristic.” It’s really not. Young has given up at least a half-dozen turnovers in five of his six Big 12 games, and he had only done that once in non-conference. Young is now averaging more than seven turnovers per game in Big 12 action. Some of that is a result of the amount of time he handles the ball and the better defensive play in the Big 12. But some of that is decision-making and OU clearly needs to reset Young’s thinking in that area because, even as a score-first point guard, a half-dozen turnovers should be the ceiling, not below the average in league action.
K-State, as you would imagine was quite happy upsetting OU. But they had the misfortune of playing a couple of days after the court-storming incident at Texas Tech. So, when you can’t storm the court, don’t worry. The players will come to you, or at least they do at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas.


And, as for court-storming, at least one of our Heartland College Sports writers is all for it (and I think I made my views clear in the Game 5 Rewind. Storm the court. Have some fun. Just don’t hurt anyone).

Texas 67, Texas Tech 58: Kelvin Roach II really picked a good time to return from injury. After missing time with a fractured left hand, the guard was cleared to play before the game. With the loss of Andrew Jones after his leukemia diagnosis, the Longhorns needed something offensively and Roach delivered with 20 points off the bench. He helped the Longhorns shoot 50 percent from the floor and 40 percent from the 3-point line, the latter of which is huge for a team that has struggled from range all season. Mo Bamba delivered a double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds), along with five blocked shots and guard Matt Coleman dished out seven assists.

This was a bad night for Tech. They shot 38 percent from the floor, 26 percent from the 3-point line, saw only two starters hit double figures and two of their bench players chipped in with double figures. Zhaire Smith (13 points) and Keenan Evans (11 points) were the starters in double figures, while Jarrett Culver (16 points) and Brandone Francis (13 points) came off the bench. Justin Gray fouled out and Norense Odiase was in foul trouble all night, robbing Tech of their inside presence.

By the way, it’s time to do away with the Longhorn Network. This is the one game I didn’t get to watch.

TCU 96, Iowa State 73: First, the bad news for TCU.


Now, the good news. They still have Alex Robinson. The junior guard took over as the starting point guard with Fisher out and, in truth, they’ve been sharing time this year. Fisher is a better scorer than Robinson, but Robinson is his equal when it comes to facilitating the point. But no one could have expected that Robinson would turn this start into a school-record 17 assists. It’s just one reason the Horned Frogs blew out the Cyclones.


But let’s be clear — the Horned Frogs had to play REALLY WELL to blow out the Cyclones. TCU shot 60.3 percent from the floor, 48 percent from the 3-point line and 67 percent from the line. That helped them overcome Iowa State’s clip of 50.8/50.0/62.5 from those ranges. Despite the lopsided result it was the best shooting game in the Big 12 for this set of games. What really set the game apart was Iowa State’s turnovers early in the game (it committed more than half of its 10 turnovers in the first half) and the points TCU scored off those turnovers helped the Horned Frogs build a lead they never gave up. TCU committed just four turnovers in the game.

I like what Iowa State tried to do in this game. The Cyclones didn’t settle for playing man. They made changes to try and cool off TCU — 2-3 zone, 1-3-1 zone, full court and halfcourt pressure. Unfortunately, this was one of those nights where there was no magic formula to cool off a team shooting 60 percent from the floor. This tells you all you need to know about TCU’s night. Forward JD Miller is a 26 percent shooter from the 3-point line and he went 5-of-6 vs. Iowa State. Everyone was hot. Miller had 21 points and Vladimir Brodziansky led with 26 points. TCU HAD to win this game with the K-State game looming this weekend. The Horned Frogs want some momentum with West Virginia coming to town next Monday.

Donovan Jackson led Iowa State with 19 points, while Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard — two cornerstones to ISU’s future — each had 16. Wigginton’s foul trouble in the first half didn’t help, but he had a fine second half. The record in Big 12 play looks awful but it doesn’t reflect the talent between Wigginton, Lard, Nick Weiler-Babb and Solomon Young, all of which should be back next year. But the Cyclones only dress 10 right now and they’re operating at a deficit that is hard to overcome in this conference.

Leftovers

Kansas avoided its fifth straight loss on the road at West Virginia. … Kansas guard Devonte’ Graham notched his 18th straight game with a 3-pointer. … Kansas now leads its all-time series with West Virginia, 8-4. … Baylor has trailed at the half of all six of its Big 12 games this season. … Oklahoma State center Mitchell Solomon has fouled out of four of OSU’s first six league games. … Kansas State’s Barry Brown scored 24 points vs. OU, his fifth game of 21 or more points in his last seven games. … OU guard Trae Young’s 14-game streak of at least 25 points came to an end vs. K-State. He did reach 500 career points in the loss, the fastest Sooner to ever reach that mark and the fastest NCAA player to reach that mark in at least 20 years (17 games). … K-State is now 4-2 against OU when the Sooners are ranked in the AP Top 5. … Iowa State guard Donovan Jackson scored the 100th 3-pointer of his career in the first half of the Cyclones’ loss to TCU. He is one of just 17 Cyclones with 100 career 3-pointers. … TCU and Iowa State have played a combined five overtime games since Jan. 1.

Injuries: Kansas State’s Kamau Stokes remains out with a foot injury. He is now in a walking boot and there is no timetable for his return. … TCU’s Jaylen Fisher is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

Looking ahead to Game 7 of conference play: More Bedlam, this time in Stillwater, as OU faces OSU. West Virginia gets the CBS treatment with a home game against Texas. Texas Tech tangles with an intriguing Iowa State team, while Kansas meets Baylor and TCU tries to cool off Kansas State.

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