Kansas State University

Kansas State notes: Thomas Gipson vs. Baylor’s Rico Gathers is a wrestling match

Kansas State guard Jevon Thomas (left) reached for a pass intended for Baylor guard Al Freeman in the second half Saturday.
Kansas State guard Jevon Thomas (left) reached for a pass intended for Baylor guard Al Freeman in the second half Saturday. the associated press

When Iowa State forward Georges Niang was asked what it felt like to defend Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson earlier this season he poetically compared the experience to wrestling a grizzly bear.

Baylor forward Rico Gathers put it another way.

“It is like playing against myself,” Gathers said.

Gathers vs. Gipson is always an entertaining matchup. Unlike most basketball players in the Big 12, they are both built like defensive ends. Gathers is 6 feet 8 and 275 pounds. Gipson is 6-7 and 265 pounds.

“Sizewise, he is my match,” Gathers said. “He is a big guy that takes up a lot of space, one of those dudes that puts his whole body on you the whole game. He is gifted at using his body We give it our all whenever we go against each other.”

Gathers got the better end of the duel Saturday, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while Gipson had 11 points and six rebounds. But they have gone back and forth throughout their careers.

Gathers respects Gipson and hopes they can team up in a different sport one day.

“Me and him are probably the two biggest guys in the conference,” Gathers said. “We could be a tag-team wrestling duo and win a lot of fights.”

Explaining the season

Bruce Weber took a stab at explaining K-State’s struggles.

“If you don’t have upperclassman guards it makes it tough,” Weber said. “You throw in the injuries, and it has been a snowball. It has been a difficult run. A lot of good things happened my first two years. Now things not quite as good have happened. You have just got to keep battling.”

Perhaps, he said, this team was destined to learn things the hard way.

“I don’t care to learn this way,” he said, “but for the big picture maybe you have to learn something the hard way to move forward.”

Worth noting

▪ Guard Marcus Foster played more against Baylor, logging 29 minutes. He scored eight points and added two assists.

▪ Freshman guard Tre Harris went scoreless in his first career start.

▪ K-State did not shoot a free throw in the first half.

▪ Baylor outscored K-State 39-24 in the paint.

First half

▪ Key play: Al Freeman hit a running layup to give Baylor a 39-25 lead at halftime.

▪ Key stat: Baylor made seven of 14 three-point attempts.

Second half

▪ Key play: Rico Gathers made Baylor’s first field goal of the second half, giving the Bears a 44-34 lead.

▪ Key stat: Baylor made 11 straight shots.

To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to krobinett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @KellisRobinett.