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K-State stifles Tigers’ high-powered offense

By Cole Manbeck

Missouri entered Saturday’s game with arguably the top offense in the country — Kansas State came into the game with one of the better defenses in college basketball. So something was bound to give in this matchup.

And it was Kansas State’s defensive prowess that prevailed, as the Wildcats defeated the seventh-ranked Tigers 75-59 Saturday afternoon inside Bramlage Coliseum.

Missouri, averaging 86.2 points per game, was held 27 points below its season average. The Tigers, who led the country in field-goal percentage offense, shot 19 percent below their average mark this season. And they went just 7-of-24 from 3 (29.2 percent), 13 percent below their average.

“They really like to move the ball and when we got up in the passing lanes they went to pick and roll and we did a great job of defending the pick and roll and defending the ball,” K-State guard Will Spradling said. “(Jordan Henriquez) did a great job of blocking the rim and Jamar (Samuels) had a couple big blocks too. So when they did break us down, they weren’t getting layups.”

Missouri can be a difficult matchup for teams. The Tigers play a four-guard, one big-lineup, and spread the floor. K-State’s defense is aggressive. The Wildcats play on the line, up the line, trying to deny the next pass. And that defensive style frustrated the Tigers all day Saturday. Missouri, the national leader in assist-to-turnover ratio with 1.71 assists to every turnover, had just 10 assists and 14 turnovers on Saturday.

K-State’s defensive rotations were nearly flawless on Saturday, and when Missouri did beat K-State off the dribble, help defense arrived to cut off the penetration.

K-State head coach Frank Martin said the defensive success was because of his team’s attention to detail.

“Guys were where they belong,” Martin said. “To combat that (Missouri) went to the ball-screen, dribble-drive offense. Our ball-screen defense was good, the bigs were where they needed to be. They called out the screens, our guards handled the ball screens the right way and we were able to keep the ball out of the paint. The two or three times they’d get it in the paint, it wasn’t like the parting of the Red Sea like it was the other day (against KU).

“We actually migrated to the ball, helped each other and made them make another pass. Then we didn’t stand and watch, we got to that shooter and made that guy make another pass. That gets them late in the shot clock. Now we’ve got them playing a little slower than they want to play.”

Missouri isn’t big in size, but Ricardo Ratliffe, its star big man who averages 14 points and seven rebounds per game, battled foul trouble and played just 14 minutes. Ratliffe, who leads the country, making 77 percent of his shots, scored just two points and had just one rebound on Saturday.

“They play a physical brand, that’s their style,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “Ricardo got in foul trouble and it hurt us that he wasn’t able to be on the floor because we don’t have a lot of physicality in the post. We don’t have him being able to get the ball into the post to score, to loosen them up on offense but also the defensive end. We just didn’t have that presence.”

Kim English, the nation’s leader in 3-point accuracy, making 55 percent from long distance, went 1-for-4 from 3, scoring well below his season average on Saturday.

Phil Pressey, the Tigers’ star point guard, had a 2.93 assist-to-turnover ratio entering Saturday. Against the Wildcats, Pressey had just three assists and four turnovers, scored just three points and fouled out.

The Wildcats contained Missouri’s offense early, which Martin said could have been a key factor.

“Missouri is real good,” he said. “They have the ability to score at a high, high level. They missed some shots. Part of it I think was our discipline defensively early in the game never let them get into rhythm. Good players like to get in rhythm. They get in rhythm, then they’re hard to get out of rhythm.”

The end result was season-lows for a high-powered Missouri offense.

“It’s all on these guys,” Martin said, giving credit to his team. “They went out and did their jobs. These guys all year long, with one mishap, have been real good to their attention to detail defensively and it was good to see our guys get that back today.”

Game notes

• K-State won its 1,500th game in program history, becoming the 41st men’s basketball program to accomplish the feat.

• Dating back to last season, the Wildcats have now won 14 straight games in Bramlage Coliseum, tying the longest streak in Bramlage history.

• K-State has now beaten Missouri eight straight times in Manhattan.

• In just five seasons, Frank Martin has already recorded six wins against top 10 teams. It was his 18th win against a top 25 team.

• The Wildcats are home once again Tuesday, when they host fourth-ranked Baylor at 7 p.m. The Bears are one of just three unbeaten teams in the country.

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