Banditry: K-State 74, Oklahoma State 71

Pistol Pete doing the Surrender Cobra. - USA TODAY Sports

For the second year in a row, the Wildcats and Cowboys traded punches for 40 minutes before the Cats emerged victorious.

Marcus Smart spent much of the second half on the bench carrying four fouls, and Marcus Foster drained 17 for the Wildcats as for the second year in a row K-State upended the Oklahoma State Cowboys to open Big 12 play. Nino Williams sank 15, his second-straight career game against the Cowboys in Manhattan, and Thomas Gipson -- nearly invisible offensively for the first 34 minutes of the game -- came up huge in the final six minutes to finish with a double-double (10 points, 11 boards).

The game was nip-and-tuck throughout. Neither team ever led the game by any more than five points at any time, and each time that occured the leader got reeled back in quickly -- until the very end, when the Cats held on to the lead long enough to win the foul game.

Although he did hit a killer three in one of his rare extended excursions onto the floor, Shane Southwell was a non-factor; he drew two fouls before the first TV timeout, and spent the vast majority of the game on the bench. That three tied the game at 52 with 9:32 to play, closing off Oklahoma State's second five-point gap of the contest.

Jevon Thomas contributed in his now-usual manner, and provided some actual points besides. The freshman tallied eight points and a game-high five assists. As mentioned, Gipson was a non-entity on offense for 34 minutes. At that point, the big man had eight defensive rebounds, but not a single positive offensive stat other than first-half two free throws. Down the stretch, Gipson went off, dropping three critical layups, adding a couple of offensive boards, and finally draining a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left which gave the Cats a three point lead and, probably more importantly, induced Le'Bryan Nash to attempt an ill-conceived shot from the arc to try and tie the game. That led to Nino Williams making one of two to give the Cats a two-possession lead with only 14 seconds to go. Phil Forte drained a three after racing down the floor on the inbound, but Leyton Hammonds fouled Williams on the inbound, and Williams sank both charity tosses to basically ice the contest. A three-point attempt by Smart with one second left clanked off the front of the rim, and K-State had claimed a top-10 pelt.

Nash led all scorers with 20, while Markel Brown had 15 and Smart and Forte both had 14 for the Cowboys.

Other than relatively poor free throw shooting (69.4%) and the travails of Southwell and Gipson, there was almost nothing to complain about in this game as far as how the Wildcats played. K-State played with energy, crashed the boards effectively, and played pretty good defense.

Next up, the Cats will visit TCU on Tuesday for what should be a relatively easy tune-up for next Saturday's fateful journey to the hellhole that is Allen. But optimism abounds after today's quality victory.

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