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Getting reacquainted with Kansas State
Since the last time Kansas University's men's basketball team faced in-state rival Kansas State — an easy home victory for the Jayhawks — Bruce Weber's Wildcats have gone 4-3.
Though K-State (16-7 overall, 6-4 Big 12) dropped all three of its road games in that stretch — at Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia — things went much better at Bramlage Coliseum, site of tonight's Sunflower Showdown with No. 7 Kansas (18-5, 9-1). The Wildcats beat Oklahoma, WVU Texas Tech and Texas at home.
Tied for 4th place in the Big 12 standings with ISU, K-State just dismantled the league's second-place team, Texas, 74-57, at "The Octagon of Doom" on Saturday.
Check out the highlights from ESPN:
Currently on a 12-game home winning streak, the Wildcats have thrived on their home floor with three wins over top 25 teams this season. Going back even farther, they've defeated eight of their last 11 ranked opponents at Bramlage.
In Big 12 play, Weber's Wildcats lead the conference in scoring defense (67.0). They're second in field goal percentage (45.9%, behind KU's 51.7%), field goal percentage defense (40.1%, behind KU's 40%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26, behind ISU's 1.6). K-State is third in three-point field goal percentage defense (33.3%) and assists (15.1)
For a group that is solid defensively, the Wildcats don't create many turnovers, though. They're 5.0 steals a game average is dead last in the Big 12.
K-State has scored 70 or more points in 10 of the last 14 games, including six times in Big 12 play. But, obviously, that didn't happen on Jan. 11 in Lawrence, when KU handled the Wildcats, 86-60.
There also is the matter of K-State's perpetual struggles with the Jayhawks. KU has won six in a row in the series, 13 of the last 14 and 48 of the last 51. Kansas is 187-91 all-time against K-State.
The Wildcats' last victory over Kansas came on Valentine's Day in 2011, 84-68, in Manhattan.
Let's get reacquainted with K-State's top players, whom KU will have to once again shut down to prevent a rare Sunflower Showdown win fro the 'Cats.
Marcus Foster, No. 2
6-2, 200, fr. guard
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 7 points, 3-12 FGs, 0-3 3s, 1-4 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 fouls in 23 minutes.
Crazily enough, only one Wildcat scored double digits against Texas this past weekend. Well, maybe it's not so crazy, considering Foster had 34 by himself.
The dangerously explosive young guard only missed 3 of his 16 shots and nailed 5 of 8 three-pointers on his career afternoon.
For some perspective, he became the fifth K-State freshmen ever to score 30 or more points and the first since Michael Beasley.
Foster's effort marked the first 30-point game for a Wildcat since Jacob Pullen went for 38 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The freshman struggled in his first visit to Allen Fieldhouse, going 3-for-12. Perhaps the road environment overwhelmed him a bit. Surely KU's defense had a lot to do with his seven-point performance, too. But expect Foster eager to produce up to his standards — 14.7 points — or better in the rematch.
His 50 three-pointers and 134 attempts from deep lead the team
Thomas Gipson, No. 42
6-7, 265, jr. forward
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 10 points, 5-7 FGs, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers.
The most productive member of the frontcourt, the junior leads K-State in field goal percentage (58%) and rebounding (6.5 boards a game).
Gipson scores 11.7 points a game and has led the Wildcats in scoring seven times this season.
He scored 10 points against Kansas in Lawrence, earning the distinction of being the only starter to reach double digits.
Defensively, Gipson only averages 0.5 blocks a game but he leads K-State with 12 charges drawn.
Shane Southwell, No. 1
6-7, 215, sr. gaurd
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 9 points, 4-8 FGs, 0-1 3s, 1-1 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover.
The third scoring option for K-State, the senior guard finds other ways to make an impact, too. Southwell averages 3.1 assists a game and 1.1 blocks.
Throw in 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 10.7 points and you've got a nice complimentary piece for a defensive-minded team.
Southwell will take three-pointers (96 attempts this season), but he has only made 28.1% from behind the arc.
Will Spradling, No. 55
6-2, 185, sr. guard
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 6 points, 2-6 FGs, 0-4 3s, 2-2 FTs, 2 rebounds.
He's been playing regular minutes for K-State since he was a freshman (95 career starts), so you know the drill. The guy is primarily a three-point shooter — 73% of the 136 shots Spradling has taken this season have come behind the three-point line.
Of the 99 threes the senior shooter has hoisted, 36 have dropped through the net (36.4%).
Spradling averages 7.8 points a game. He passes out 2.6 assists and has only turned the ball over 15 times in 665 minutes this season.
In his last five games, he's averaging 11.0 points an outing.
Wesley Iwundu, No. 25
6-7, 195, fr. forward
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 4 points, 1-2 FGs, 2-2 FTs, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 block.
An accurate shooter at 49.1% in his freshman season, Iwundu averages 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds.
Because he spends more time battling in the paint than any other Wildcat, the 6-7 forward leads the team with 81 free throw attempts. But he only shoots 65.4% at the foul line.
Against Texas, Iwundu scored eight points and had season-highs with eight assists and three steals.
Jevon Thomas, No. 5
6-0, 180, fr. guard
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 9 points, 2-7 FGs, 1-1 3s, 4-6 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 turnovers in 28 minutes.
The freshman guard has shown real potential but he didn't become eligible until the 12th game of the season, so he has had his ups and downs while adjusting to life in the Big 12.
Thomas plays more minutes (21.3) than any other member of K-State's bench. However, those numbers are on a downward trend, with Weber playing him just 11 minutes against West Virginia and three against Texas.
He is closer to a true point guard than anyone else on the roster, and dishes 3.3 assists a game to go with 3.5 points.
Nino Williams, No. 11
6-5, 220, jr. forward
— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 12 points, 4-5 FGs, 4-4 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover in 17 minutes.
The backup forward has carved a niche for himself on the second unit, averaging 6.9 points in his last 14 games (5.6 on the season).
With most of his shots coming inside, Williams shoots 51.7% from the floor. His 76% free-throw shooting leads the team — he's even better than Spradling (71.7%).
Williams has scored double digits four times in 10 Big 12 games, and led the Wildcats' struggling offense at KU, with 12 points.
Almost half of his 3.0 rebounds a game come on the offensive end of the floor.