Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 74-57 victory over Texas on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:
1. The best thing about Marcus Foster’s big day? He took good shots.
Marcus Foster is one of the Big 12′s top freshmen, and he proved that once again on Saturday by scoring a career-high 34 points. It was one of the finest scoring efforts you will see in the conference this season, and it happened because Foster took good shots. That’s something Foster hasn’t always done this season. He has a tendency to take bad shots, and that has led to games in which he has made 6 of 20 shots or 3 of 12 shots or 5 of 16 shots. He hasn’t always been efficient. On Saturday, he was incredibly efficient, making 13 of 16 shots. And the effort came a game after making 10 of 16 against West Virginia. It seemed like all of his shots were open ones. He made threes and he found space near the basket for lightly contested shots. He said he came into the game telling himself not to take bad shots. Well, the strategy worked. Texas foolishly threw a zone defense at K-State early on, and Foster took advantage.
2.Bruce Weber knows how to win games at Bramlage Coliseum.
Weber is in the middle of his second season at K-State, and he already has a 28-2 record at Bramlage Coliseum. That’s impressive. K-State is a different team at home. It plays with more energy and better defense. That leads to better shots and higher scores. West Virginia has been on a roll lately, but it looked like dog meat in Manhattan, losing to K-State 78-56. Texas has been on an unprecedented roll lately, but it looked like expired dog meat in Manhattan, failing to even compete. K-State lost to both of those teams on the road. At home, things were completely different.
3. K-State can beat Kansas if it plays this well on Monday.
I’ve noticed several people predict that K-State will need to play even better than it did against Texas if it hopes to beat Kansas on ESPN’s “Big Monday.” I disagree. If K-State duplicates this effort, it will have a good shot against Kansas. Will it be a difficult game? Yes. Kansas, with all its size and depth, is a horrible matchup for K-State. The Jayhawks blew the Wildcats off the floor in Lawrence when Weber put his backups in. But things will be different if Foster has another productive day, Spradling adds about 10 points and Thomas Gipson and Shane Southwell come to play. That might be the most important factor. Gipson and Southwell have been all over the place lately. They will need to play better against Kansas. Otherwise, the Wildcats head into the Sunflower Showdown with momentum and a nice blueprint to follow.
Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Marcus Foster — 10.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 7.
A perfect rating? Yup. It doesn’t happen often, but Foster earned a 10 for scoring 34 points on 16 points. The freshman guard was incredibly efficient, and he played good defense.
Wesley Iwundu — 8.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 6
I’m ready to give Iwundu a nickname: Mr. Consistency. The freshman forward keeps quietly having nice games. On Saturday, he had eight points and eight assists. He is one of the top passing bigs in the conference, particularly at the top of the key.
Will Spradling — 7.
Last game: 6. Average: 6.5.
Spradling has scored at least eight points in his past five games. On Saturday, he had nine points, four steals and three assists. Another quality, if quiet, game from the senior guard.
Nino Williams –6.5.
Last game: 5. Average: 5.8.
The junior forward had eight points, two rebounds and two assists in just 18 minutes.
D.J. Johnson — 6.5.
Last game: 2.5. Average: 3.5.
This was one of Johnson’s best games. The backup forward had eight points, while making all three of his shots.
Thomas Gipson — 6.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.
He only had three points in 23 minutes, which is obviously lower than what K-State coaches prefer, but 11 rebounds is always nice.
Shane Southwell — 4.5.
Last game: 3.5. Average: 6.1.
It was another forgettable game for Southwell. He had just two points and three rebounds. But he did finish with three assists. The senior is K-State’s best passer. He needs to find ways to use that to his advantage on a more consistent basis.
Omari Lawrence — 3.
Last game: 3. Average: 3.8.
The reserve guard had two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes.
Nigel Johnson — 2.
Last game: 4. Average: N/A.
He replaced Jevon Thomas in K-State’s rotation, but he didn’t score.
Jevon Thomas — 2.
Last game: 2. Average: 4.8.
Weber had harsh words for Thomas following the West Virginia game, and he was still obviously displeased with him on Saturday. Thomas only saw three minutes of court time.