DEFENSE THE BEST IN A LONG, LONG, LONG TIME

COLUMBIA, Missouri, - K-State's defense hit its stride in the last 10 days playing three Top 10 teams, and coming out with a pair of wins against No. 9 Baylor and No. 3 Missouri. Tuesday the Wildcats held the best offensive team in the league to 35 percent shooting.

For those of age, you might remember Jack Hartman's 3-2 defense featuring Tyrone Adams, Randy Reed and Tim Jankovich providing the out-front line of dense, while Les Craft and Ed Nealy were the reinforcements down low?

To close out that 1982 regular Big 8 season, Kansas State allowed 280 points in going 4-1 against Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

The point, you ask?

Well in the last five games going into Tuesday's 78-68 win over No. 3 Missouri, K-State had given up only 289 points, or 57.8 points per game, in going 3-2 against Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas, Kansas and Baylor. It's the fewest five-game total in conference play since that 1982 season some 30 years ago.

"I think we've been good defensively for a while," said Martin. "There was a spell against Texas where we played selfishly and were worried only about individual assignments rather than rotating and helping out, but I think our defense has been solid."

Those words were prior to Saturday's 57-56 win over No. 9 Baylor.

Tuesday after a 78-68 win over No. 3 Mizzou in Columbia, Martin said, "That's three times in a row [we have held our opponent under 40 percent from the field]. That's a credit to our kids. They are taking so much pride in all the work that we do to build our defensive techniques and concepts. That allows us to spend a little more time on the offensive side of the ball to try and clean that up. I said earlier in the year these guys had a chance to be the best defensive team we've coached."

Missouri's Kim English said of K-State's physical play, "That was the game plan, that's how they win. That's their mantra. They're a physical team. We didn't punch back early, and when you do that, when you play good teams, it's an uphill battle all the way."

Baylor guard Brady Heslip said of K-State, "They're a really good defensive team. They get up in the passing lanes and pressure and deny passes a lot. I think at times it just threw us off on offense, and they were able to get some steals and stuff like that."

Interesting is the fact that in each season – 1982 and 2012 – K-State needed that quality of "D" play to have a chance for victory. Thirty years ago K-State averaged just 61.4 points in those five games, while this year the ‘Cats are scoring at only a 60.6 point per game clip.

Against nationally ranked teams in No. 7 Kansas and No. 9 Baylor this past week, K-State gave up a total of just 115 points to a Jayhawk team that had been averaging 75.3 points and a Bears team that had been scoring 75.1 points for the season.

Tuesday, K-State held the Big 12's offensive leading Tigers to the 68 points on just 38 percent shooting. In the first win by 16 points over the Tigers in January, the Wildcats held MU to 35 percent shooting.

Kansas was held to season-lows of 59 points on 39 percent shooting, and Baylor to its third lowest output of the year at 56 points on 39 percent shooting. For the year, the Jayhawks had been shooting 49 percent from the field, and the Bears 47 percent.

"It's all about effort," said Jordan Henriquez, who had had 15 rebounds and 13 blocked shots in the last three games against KU, BU and MU.

Through very much a team concept, Martin said of KSU's recent individual play on defense, "Will (Spradling) has had some really good moments, Jamar (Samuels) is so much better defensively than at any other time in his career, Jordan (Henriquez) against Kansas showed some things that were special, and Rodney (McGruder) is so much better than a year ago.

"The guys who have been around have gotten better, while the young guys continued to have their ups and downs, but overall we've been pretty good defensively," said Martin.


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