Has everyone calmed down yet? Good. Time to drop the emotions and start looking at this in a level-headed way again. Yes, The Cougs lost in frustrating fashion to the No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats, 63-58. At the same time, there were plenty of positive signs to take from the game. This isn't the end of the world; it's merely the first loss of the season against a tough team that created a match-up problem.
Ready, set, notes.
- Marcus Capers did one hell of a job on Jacob Pullen. Until Pullen hit a three late in the second half, Capers and co. held the Kansas State star to just two points. Pullen finished the night with eight points on 2-11 shooting. Three of those eight points came on free throws in the waning moments. I would match Capers up on any opponent's best player and take Capers every single time. He's a lock-down defender, plain and simple. It's a mentality, and he has it.
- I don't understand the Klay Thompson hate tonight. Yes, he had six turnovers in the first half. Yes, he had a bad night from the floor and from the line. But he was also the only guy on the team getting to the line. Shot not falling? Thompson was putting his head down and getting to the bucket. Whether or not he finished, or hit his free throws, is not my concern right now. He looked dang good off the dribble. His shooting night was an anomaly.
- And welcome back Reggie Moore. I didn't know how Moore would respond and I legitimately feared that his season would end tonight if he came down wrong on his wrist. I was wrong. It took him a bit of time to settle in, but when he did it looked like the Reggie Moore of old. 10 points, many timely, three assists and three turnovers. And I honestly expected more turnovers from the kid playing with a heavily taped left wrist. Moore did was Moore does. Drive, create and find the open man. In the second half, Moore had a filthy right-to-left crossover, hitting the jumper after shaking his man. Shortly thereafter, Moore again went right-to-left, this time driving and dishing to Casto for the bucket. That is the point guard we know and love. He also finished 4-5, only missing a three. Yep, his shot's still good.
That was some of the good. After the jump, the rest of the story.
- I hear the frustration about the missed free throws. But Kansas State was also horrific from the line and WSU making theirs doesn't necessarily guarantee a win. It was simply a poor night from the floor and the line. It is what it is and there's nothing that bemoaning it will do.
- While Klay had a rough shooting night, but got to the line, Faisal Aden had a rough shooting night and didn't get to the line. The junior college transfer, on fire since the season began, was just 4-13 from the field and 0-2 from deep. He also did not attempt a free throw. Sure, he is human, after all. But don't panic about it yet. As I said earlier, there will be nights like this. I do wish, however, Aden would've shot less and created more. If his shot isn't falling and he can't get to the line, he absolutely has to set up his teammates. He didn't, finishing with no assists and two turnovers.
- KSU out-rebounded WSU 45-33. They also owned the offensive glass, pulling down 17 boards. Oh no! Panic! We're screwed! No. Kansas State is a very good offensive rebounding team. WSU hasn't been a very good defensive rebounding team. Put that together, and you get what we did tonight. It didn't help that the refs weren't bothering with over the back calls tonight.
- With 7:33 to go in the game, WSU held a foul differential edge of 19-11. The game finished at 20-18, though three were intentional fouls late in the game. The way the Cougs were playing -- attacking the rim and drawing contact -- WSU could have drawn 30 fouls on the night. The refs quit calling them, per Kansas State's game, and evened-up the foul differential to a nice and tidy two.
- Against a team that can play two big, strong post players, WSU might have some issues. Casto held his own, but the rotating cast of characters alongside him had trouble with KSU's athleticism. The good news? I don't think we'll see many more teams like Kansas State. But Brock Motum and Abe Lodwick did have some trouble on the defensive end.
- We got a pretty good picture of what Ken Bone's rotation will look like tonight. Again this year, it looks like the rotation may be small, with seven players using the bulk of the minutes against the Wildcats. The five starters, Reggie Moore and Brock Motum took nearly all the minutes, with Patrick Simon picking up eight minutes in spot relief. Keep in mind WSU had to go big, playing Motum and Casto beside each other, but I expect to see an eight-man rotation, with Simon's minutes going up.
Was the loss frustrating? Yes. Was the game sloppy for both teams? Very. But this isn't the end all, be all. There will be life and another chance to get a big win on Wednesday. Moving past the frustration, there was a lot to like.
I'll be back tomorrow with more, including the quotes.
One final note I forgot. The halftime entertainment attire was probably a poor choice. Here we had a bunch of girls, maybe 8 to 10 years old, doing a dance at the half. The first set: no problem. Came out dressed in pink, did their thing and left. The second set: woops. This group came out dressed in purple. On Apple Cup weekend. The result was a loud round of boos from the crowd.