K-State jumped out to a lead and never looked back on Sunday afternoon against Incarnate Word. We didn’t learn a ton about the Wildcats in their final tune-up before Nebraska next weekend, but here are my takeaways.
Despite a few lapses early in the game, I thought K-State did a pretty good job of getting locked in from the jump and keeping it up through the game’s entirety. This had been a problem throughout the start of the season, with giant gaps in intensity and focus during games. It happened on Tuesday against Abilene Christian, but a strong enough push was made to get the halftime lead.
K-State used their size, athleticism and skill advantage to shoot 50% in the first half and also snag a 17-point lead. Despite that, Jerome Tang’s squad seemed to spend a little extra time in the locker room at the half and came out with even more energy in the second. In less than nine minutes, they helped their lead grow to 40.
Nebraska will be another good test as the Huskers are 6-5, but have a road win at Creighton and just pushed Purdue to the brink on Saturday. Their losses are against teams that will all be in the NCAA Tournament conversation.
DESI SILLS FROM THREE
The Arkansas State transfer continues his cold shooting from three this season, after entering the game 2/17 from beyond the arc, he went 1/5 on Sunday against Incarnate Word.
Desi Sills brings a lot of good to the table for K-State’s offense, but his decision-making (specifically from three) has been head-scratching at times. Sills said before the season began that he sees himself as a good shooter, so unless Tang and staff tell him to limit the shots from deep, they may keep coming.
What makes this interesting is how good Sills has been off the dribble and getting to the basket, consistently finishing around the rim. Until Sills can get his shooting back to the form he had as a freshman at Arkansas, I think it would be best for him and the Wildcat offense if he limited his threes.
David N’Guessan has been a big boost in the last two games for K-State. After a career night against Abilene Christian, he responded with a strong first half performance against Incarnate Word. With N’Guessan’s uptick, it has been a nice supplement to K-State’s go to men in Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. Desi Sills (minus the three mentioned above) is also starting to look more comfortable and can be reliable in key moments with his finishing ability. Nae’Qwan Tomlin also showcased his athleticism again in the win, but some of the raw components of his game were still visible. It seems like that might be getting cleaned up more and more though.
Two leaders and three reliable pieces on offense give the Wildcats a good chance heading towards the end of December with bigger opponents on the horizon. Developing roles for more players is going to be a key indicator of success this season for the Wildcats. Now that they have five that could step up on any given night, the next step is seeing if Cam Carter, Tykei Greene or Ish Massoud can join the fray.
FREE THROW SHOOTING
After shooting 55% from the free throw line against Abilene Christian on Tuesday, K-State backed it up by just shooting 57%. Since the Butler game, where they only went 2/3 at the line, K-State has shot 56% from the line against Wichita State, Abilene Christian and Incarnate Word. I am not worried about it yet for them, but something to monitor. Making free throws will be important for this team in all of their Big 12 games this season…except for the trip to Allen Fieldhouse.