The Best Reasonable Outcome: You're one of the worst offensive basketball teams in America, going on the road to play one of the best defensive teams in America, you're without your starting point guard, and your starting off guard goes to the bench with a sprained ankle three minutes into the game. Under those circumstances, it is not unreasonable to expect the game to be over at halftime, and to ultimately lose by 35 points or more.
With 11 minutes to play and Kansas State leading Texas Tech by 25, it looked like the monster blowout was indeed in the offing. But the Red Raiders, as they always do, continued to play hard as they were able, Luke Adams heated up a bit from three-point country, and by the three-minute mark, had chopped that 25-point lead down to 10.
The Red Raiders ultimately lost by 19, but the story was Tech's heart. As awful as this season has been, Tech has shown no signs of throwing in the towel and it is clear that Billy Gillispie has not lost the team. It speaks to Gillispie's hold on the team that he has managed to keep it focused and fighting throughout the depths of a dreadful campaign.
Wagner Missed: Part of Tech's offensive struggles against KSU stemmed from a fundamental lack of quickness at the guard position. Nobody in the Big 12 pressures the perimeter as well as the Wildcats and if you can't make them pay by lancing to the basket, you're pretty much dead in the water.
The only Red Raider who has the quickness to make Kansas State pay didn't even make the trip to Manhattan. Kevin Wagner was the last player Tech could afford to be without in this game, and that is what happened. Javarez Willis, Ty Nurse, Luke Adams and DeShon Minnis do not have what Wagner does.
A Familiar Name: If you're a Texas basketball historian, the name Thomas Gipson may ring a bell. If so, that's because the bruising KSU forward is the son of a former Texas Longhorn and North Texas Mean Green of the same name. Gipson senior played his high school ball at Seguin, while Gipson junior played at Cedar Hill.
Tolbert Notes: Jordan Tolbert is still very much an uncut diamond. He has one hand of stone and the other of butter. He charges around like a rhino in an art museum when he gets the ball in the lane. And he desperately needs to learn to take the ball up strong immediately when he gets it near the hoop. Tolbert has squandered close to 20 scoring opportunities this season by needlessly putting the ball on the floor rather than taking it straight to the rack.
But Tolbert is a tough, dogged player possessing enough energy to light up the city of Cincinnati. And he has a knack for drawing fouls. By my count Tolbert drew at least nine Kansas State fouls in 34 minutes of play. Over one third of KSU's 26 fouls came trying to defend Tolbert. I felt like I was watching the Red Raiders go against Allen Iverson in the Sweet 16.