Key play: Marcus Thornton’s layup in the closing seconds gave Georgia a 20-12 lead at halftime.
Key stat: The Wildcats’ 12 first-half points was their lowest total at home in school history and the lowest since they scored 11 at Oklahoma State in 1992.
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Key stat: Georgia was nine of 18 (50 percent) from the field in the second half.
Key play: The Bulldogs took the lead for good on a three-point play by Nemanja Djurisic with 1:07 remaining.
The forgotten starters
Kansas State’s starting five gradually disappeared over the course of the second half. It was a pattern that started with the benching of the player perhaps least likely to find himself under those circumstances – leading scorer Marcus Foster.
The sophomore guard went scoreless with three turnovers and one assist in 17 first-half minutes. Coach Bruce Weber tried him again in the second, but after Foster was removed with more than 13 minutes remaining, he stayed on the bench while reserve guards Nigel Johnson and Tre Harris saw most of the minutes.
K-State’s bench players outscored the starters 41-5.
“You have to play well,” Weber said when asked whether he was sending a message by keeping Foster out. “If you play well, you stay in the game.… Those other guys cannot turn it over like that and you have got to play hard. You have got to do the things that it takes, otherwise you have to play other people. If you want to say it’s a message, then it’s a message.”
Center Stephen Hurt started for the first time but played 10 minutes as Thomas Gipson became the Wildcats’ most effective player. Guards Jevon Thomas and Justin Edwards both went scoreless and Nino Williams, after providing energy with four first-half rebounds, found the same fate and didn’t score and had one rebound in the second half.
Williams came back for the final possessions but Weber said he was out of position for a potential shot to take the lead.
“Nino didn’t pop to the right spot,” Weber said. “He was wide open, but he was too far out.… I thought Nino, he’s been great. Today, it just wasn’t clicking. The size of their team, it was pretty hard for Nino, but it was good for him to battle like that. Nino is fine.”
▪ Georgia coach Mark Fox, a Garden City native, was an assistant for K-State coach Tom Asbury from 1994-2000. His wife, Cindy, spent five years in the KSU athletic department.
Fox got his first head-coaching job in 2004, the first of five seasons with Nevada. He’s in his sixth year with the Bulldogs.
“It was emotional,” Fox said. “We grew up in my house flying the K-State flag. We were a purple house. I spent six years here and I learned so much. I learned how to coach here. It was very emotional coming back.”
▪ K-State, which lost at Bramlage Coliseum to Texas Southern on Sunday, lost consecutive non-conference games at home for the first time since December 1987, the final season of Ahearn Field House.
▪ Georgia tied the all-time series with Wednesday’s win. The only other meeting was a K-State win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City on March 12, 1987.