The Coyote men essentially closed up the non-conference portion of the schedule — Wait! There’s that Brisket Buster game yet! — with a 70-50 loss to Kansas State on Monday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan.
The Coyotes are now 6-9 with NDSU and SDSU coming to town next week on Thursday (NDSU) and Saturday (SDSU, 4 p.m.).
Two years ago the Coyotes faced Kansas State and lost 91-69. The KSU team USD played this year isn’t quite the team the Coyotes faced two years ago, but regardless, USD met the challenge of playing a major program much better this time.
The Coyotes started slow against KSU and finished slow. In between they were playing as well as they have all season.
Karim Rowson led with 14 points, though it appeared to me that he took some ill-advised shots along the way. Juevol Myles, after starting slow himself, had a strong second half and finished with 13 points. Brandon Bos, meanwhile, continued to look like he’s going to be a real boost on the offensive end with 11 points.
The box score looked like they often do against quicker, stronger teams. USD got hammered on the boards (24-39) and the shooting percentage fell (33 from the field, 2-11 on 3’s), but I go back to the loss at Iowa and continue to think this team will continue to get decent looks at hoop as the year goes along. With so little scoring coming back from last season, it was a giant concern on paper going into 2012-13.
After going down 13-2, USD began to play a little better. They trailed 24-8 with 7:43 remaining in the first half but closed that to 30-18 by half. The first 10 minutes of the second half will be what they’d like to see a lot of next week. Going from the 7:43 mark in the first half to the 9:15 mark in the second half — what amounted to nearly half the game — they outscored the Wildcats 31-22. Those other 20 minutes were not nearly as kind, but at least the Coyotes played well enough so that Bruce Weber had to call timeout and bitch out his guys a little.
The Coyotes had a chance to cut it to 44-41 when Bos hit a short leaner but the whistle blew for a charge on the play with 8:15 to go and the Coyotes gave up the next 12 points.
“We didn’t handle things after that very well,” USD coach Dave Boots said. “I thought we broke down on the offensive end. Defensively they just went after us. They were really tough on the boards those next few minutes. We didn’t get the best shots the next few times — we attacked the basket and it resulted in turnovers and blocked shots, we probably lost our patience a little bit.”
And more from Boots, taken from his post-game interview with Joe Van Goor:
“I thought we played terrific all the way up to that point to get it to five. We had the opportunity to keep cutting it…. but our kids played hard. It was a good effort by them against a talented physical team that is good inside and very strong and physical on the perimeter.”
“I thought we did some things — we were able to get some shots up in the second half so our execution was better. When we’re playing these people that’s what we’re looking for. We want to get some shots off that give us a good chance to score. Trevor Gruis was better in the second half and we got the ball down to him low so we could feed off him a little bit. I don’t like the (final) score and I don’t like how we played the last 10 minutes but up to that point I thought our kids were doing a nice job physically and mentally.”
“Our matchup was very good today. It was very active and we didn’t miss a lot of rotations. We were really good down on that baseline. When they did score they just overpowered us on the inside with big, strong kids. I was real impressed defensively.”
And regarding next Thursday:
“(NDSU) is one of the best defensive teams that we’re going to see so this was a good game for us to go against a team like KSU because the Bison are going to come at you physically. They’re very quick and they have some great size. Maybe the best size we’ll play against in the Summit League. Very good offensively. … we’d have to play flawless basketball. They were picked No. 2 in the league and they just beat the team picked No. 1 so both those games are going to be very important and very difficult but our guys got to step up and be ready to go physically and mentally and know that we’re going to have to have a lot of great game performances by a lot of guys.”