Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cats' Johnson Handles Pressure

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Cats' Johnson Handles Pressure

Article excerpt

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- With firsthand experience and a little extra time to prepare, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber came up with a plan of attack for West Virginia's full-court pressure defense.

Weber inserted Nigel Johnson into the starting lineup, going with a two-point guard set along with Jevon Thomas. The Wildcats cut down their turnovers from 25 the first game against West Virginia to 17 in the rematch, a marked improvement but not good enough to get them over the top.

K-State used a 12-0 run to go from a 10-point deficit to a two- point lead with 2:25 to play but No. 21 West Virginia was able to escape with a 76-72 victory Wednesday at WVU Coliseum.

"They beat us at home and we talked to each guy about making one- percent improvement," Weber said. "It might be a turnover, make a layup, a free throw, not breaking down mentally defensively. We were definitely better prepared. The kids understood how they played and we attacked their press pretty well.

"You can't simulate it until you go through it. We don't play anyone like this. If you're not playing strong, it's tough to play against. We went hard Monday with six and seven guys on defense, we made some better cuts and we adjusted our press offense. Seventeen (turnovers) gave us a chance. It's still a lot ... and the last couple probably cost us the game."

After taking the two-point lead, the Wildcats (12-13, 5-7 Big 12) had turnovers on their next two possessions and one more with 20 seconds left to stumble to their fifth straight loss.

"We just wanted to keep the ball away from the corners," Johnson said. "When you get the ball in corners against them they trap hard and there's not much you can do. You can't pick your dribble up and you have to keep the ball in the middle of the court."

Johnson turned his best performance of the season with 14 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals, although he did have a team- high four turnovers while playing a season-high 33 minutes. …

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