Sheesh. It’s not far from Manhattan to Lawrence, but you would the imagine the trip must have felt like an ordeal for the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday night. A 72-39 loss to Kansas State was the worst possible way KU could have started conference play.
As the Big 12 schedule got under way Saturday, for the the most part there weren’t huge surprises.
Yes, Texas lost at Texas Tech, but I think many people saw that coming. Oklahoma State lost at Iowa State, but nobody is really surprised when anybody loses in Ames.
Baylor visited the mountains and left with a victory over Colorado, Oklahoma put away the Huskers in the first half at Nebraska.
I was at Missouri, where Texas A&M and the Tigers played “find ways not to score” in the first half. In the second half, the Aggies led by as much as 17 and it really looked like they had pulled away completely.
But as was the case in their loss at Florida State last Monday, the Aggies saw it start to slip away. The Tigers got as close as four points four times in the last 3 1/2 minutes.
However, I’ve seen this kind of thing from Missouri too many times: The Tigers have a chance to pull an upset, but you can just tell they don’t truly “believe” they’re going to do it.
Consequently, they usually don’t do it. MU didn’t look urgent and purposeful on offense when the Tigers trailed by four with about 30 seconds left. It was like they were content enough to have made a game of it.
If you asked any of the Tigers, they would say they didn’t feel that way at all. But when they watch tape of themselves, they should see that they didn’t play those final 30 seconds as if they had any confidence they might win.
To A&M’s credit, the Aggies didn’t let this one get away like the game did at Florida State. Danielle Gant was perfect from the field (10 of 10) and the line (2 of 2), essentially saving A&M. You’ll hear more from me about her and A&M this week on ESPN.com.
But back to the beginning, Kansas State’s throttling of Kansas. The Wildcats had a large, enthusiastic crowd and a player in Shalee Lehning who brings out the fans’ energy as much as anyone in college now.
However, the “McPherson Connection” also deserves big props. Ashley Sweat had 18 points; she’s the team’s leading scorer and _ I think _ usually the true difference-maker in tough games for the Wildcats.
Sweat has not gotten her due for what a good player she is. Lehning understandably has received so much of the spotlight. But Sweat deserves a lot of credit for K-State’s perfect start thus far, as does her former high school teammate Marlies Gipson.
I swear it seems like Gipson has no idea how talented she is; she just very pragmatically goes out and anchors the defense and holds her own inside at 6 feet tall. Gipson blocked five shots against the Jayhawks, establishing ownership of the paint that made KU lose confidence to challenge her.
Things get tougher for K-State really quick, though: The Wildcats play at Oklahoma on Wednesday.