FORT WORTH — Kansas State lost to TCU 66-59 on Tuesday at Schollmaier Arena.
Some thoughts from the game:
With two point guards, you don’t have one
Kamau Stokes and Cartier Diarra can’t seem to play well at the same time.
Both of K-State’s point guards have been in a slump since Stokes returned to the rotation eight games ago after recovering from a broken left foot.
Their struggles were more obvious than ever against TCU. Stokes had two assists and one turnover while going scoreless. Diarra had no assists and five turnovers while scoring three points. They were on the court for a total of 52 minutes and combined to make 1 of 10 shots.
It’s hard to win games with that type of production (or lack thereof) from your point guard position.
“Kamau is obviously not 100 percent and Cartier is a freshman,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “They just didn’t make the plays. Obviously, too many turnovers from the guards, some tough, forced plays.... Not great execution.”
It’s been a strange year for K-State’s point guards.
Early in the season, Stokes was one of the team’s biggest contributors. The junior averaged 13.4 points and 4.8 assists in his first 15 games before going down with a broken foot.
His injury was viewed as a major setback at the time, because Diarra was only averaging 4.3 points and 1.5 assists off the bench. But Diarra stepped up without Stokes in the rotation and averaged 12 points per game.
Then Stokes returned and his production dropped to 7.5 points per game while losing 22 turnovers and sending out 10 assists.
Other than a road victory against Oklahoma State in which they combined for 19 points, they have both been quiet. Stokes is no longer one of the team’s best three-point shooters and Diarra has taken a step back.
He was far too aggressive against TCU, often choosing to drive into traffic rather than make the easy pass.
“It hurt us tonight,” Weber said. “He tried to do too much.”
Something needs to change.
Weber likes to move Barry Brown to point guard late in close games, but he was unable to do that against TCU with Brown in foul trouble. Stokes and Diarra could do little in crunch time.
Kansas State’s NCAA Tournament chances remain a mystery.
The Wildcats entered this game as a bubble team, projected as a No. 10 seed by most experts, and left it in exactly the same way.
This was a missed opportunity.
Though they remain in decent shape to lock up an at-large bid with a home victory over Baylor on Saturday, or a nice run at the Big 12 Tournament, they don’t seem like a lock. They would have felt much better about their chances had they won this game.
Beating TCU would have gone down as a signature victory of sorts. The Horned Frogs entered the day with an impressive RPI of 19, and beating a team ranked that high would have boosted the Wildcats’ stock with the selection committee.
What is their best victory at the moment? The answer is probably TCU at home, Oklahoma at home or Baylor on the road. With a weak nonconference schedule, K-State’s postseason destination remains up for debate.
That makes the regular-season finale against Baylor important. A victory assures K-State of finishing no worse than fourth in the Big 12 standings and wraps up a winning conference record. That will probably be enough.
“I would have felt a lot better had we won tonight, but we didn’t. I am still pretty confident that we are sitting in a pretty good spot,” K-State forward Dean Wade said. “If we get this win Saturday we will be in a really, really good spot.”
A loss will leave the Wildcats sweating in Kansas City. The pressure is on.
“I just want a sense of urgency,” Weber said. “Obviously, Baylor crushed Oklahoma tonight (87-64). You cannot look at the first game. We kicked their butts and played at a high level, but they are playing at a higher level now ... We have got a war. We have got to fight. I don’t want pressure or stress, I want urgency and competitive spirit and energy and emotion. If we do that stuff we will find a way to win.
Dean Wade has made a compelling case for a spot on the All-Big 12 first team.
The junior forward has been one of the most consistent players in the conference and a driving force for the Wildcats.
He was averaging 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists heading into Tuesday’s game, and he had a game-high 24 points against the Horned Frogs.
Wade did it all in this matchup, making 10 of 14 shots, snaring five rebounds and sending out four assists. That is to be expected. He has reached double figures in 18 straight games. His coach thought he could have had 40 points against TCU had teammates gotten him more looks.
Brown also deserves consideration for first-team honors, but Wade is in a stronger place because of his position. He is arguably the best forward in the Big 12.