Cats ride defense early in Big 12 season

BY foxsports • January 10, 2012

Kansas State desperately needed to find a way to reassert its physical toughness.
  
After getting dominated at Kansas in the Big 12 opener, the Wildcats were not exactly on the verge of collapse. However, they did want to avoid an 0-2 start like they suffered the previous season, when Kansas State underachieved as Big 12 favorites.
 
"When you get embarrassed, one of two things happens to your team," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. "You either come apart at the seams or the seams get a little tighter together."
  
By tightening up, the Wildcats suffocated the Big 12's top-shooting team and earned a 75-59 win over Missouri. The Tigers, who entered the game as one of only four remaining unbeaten teams in Division I, also were shooting better than 50 percent on the season.
  
Against the Wildcats, however, the Tigers' percentage dipped 19 points below their season average, and they didn't hit 40 points until less than nine minutes remained.
  
"Our discipline defensively early in the game never let them get in a rhythm," Martin said.
  
Defense is the one strength the Wildcats can turn into a constant. They cannot rely so much on their offense because no go-to scorer exists on the team and shooters are too prone to going too cold for too long from outside range.
  
But with physicality underneath, Kansas State should still turn rebounds into points with a sturdy and deep front line. That group was outplayed at Kansas but recovered by establishing a 39-25 advantage on the glass against Missouri.
  
"We did not play hard against Kansas," Martin said. "That's not who we are. We were out of character. We refocused and were kind of back in character (against Missouri)."


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