The Kansas State Wildcats (8-7, 1-1 Big 12) fought through and picked up a crucial home win against the TCU Horned Frogs, 58-53. In doing so, they avoided going under .500 on the season, and also avoided an 0-2 start in conference play. The win also denies TCU (13-2, 0-2 Big 12) their first-ever conference road win.
First, the obvious. It's a win, and a win is exactly what this team needed. While TCU is improved from previous years, a loss in Bramlage to the Frogs would probably have sent #EMAW into Defcon-1 levels of panic.
The game started with a series of runs: first with K-State running out to a 7-0 lead, then TCU coming back with an 8-0 run to take a one-point lead, then the Cats answering right back with a 7-0 run again for a 14-8 lead. After that point, both teams settled down a bit, and traded punches back and forth, with K-State taking a 22-19 lead into the locker room.
The Wildcats came out in the second half and started to exert their will more often, stretching the game out to a 10 point spread before TCU came back to cut it to three. K-State would stretch it back out to 10, and TCU would come back to four down. This back-and-forth continued throughout the second half, when the game essentially became a free-throw contest in the last two minutes. TCU had it to 5 with 12.6 seconds left, and the game reeked of the end of the Texas Southern game. Fortunately, the Cats made enough free throws and few enough mistakes down the stretch - ironically by keeping both Jevon Thomas and Nigel Johnson out of the game - to close it out for the win.
Weber started the game with Marcus Foster on the bench again, but inserted Jevon Thomas back into the lineup. After rumors surfaced that Foster may have quit the team, Weber actually reassured that Foster had several good practices this week so far. Whatever happened, it worked for the time being. Foster came into the game and immediately put five points on the board with an aggressive drive to the bucket and a good looking three off a screen. His demeanor on both ends of the floor is the most positive it's been since the Arizona game, and he looked to be much more effective on defense, exerted some effort in team rebounding, and was clearly more aggressive on offense, looking to be a scorer instead of just a shooter. Thomas Gipson continued his good play since the second half of the Georgia game. Didn't have the stats to show for it in the first half (he did sit a while with 2 fouls), but eventually started wearing down the TCU interior and contributing to the scoreboard and on the glass. Even Wesley Iwundu made a generally positive appearance and showed the flashes of that long wing player we saw last year.
K-State had one of its poorer shooting performances for the season - partially because of the length of TCU on the inside - shooting 16-42 from the floor for 38.1%. Still came away with the win, which does attest to the grittyness we played with.
K-State's 15 offensive rebounds is the second-highest number this season (behind 18 offensive boards against Long Beach State). 15 also represents the number of K-State turnovers in the game - 9 in the first half, 6 in the second - which is above season average.
The number of points scored by...
K-State Player Of The Game: Marcus Foster
Welcome back, Marcus Foster?
"I got it back. I love K-State. That's why I came here. We've had tough times, but it's all about battling back."
- K-State guard Marcus Foster, after the game
Coming off the bench (but playing 29 minutes), Foster led all scorers with 23 points on 5-11 shooting (3-6 3PFG), and 10-12 from the charity stripe, his first free throws since the Texas A&M game. As mentioned before, his demeanor was much better all night, and while he only compiled 1 rebound and 1 assist with 4 turnovers, his defensive effort was much improved, he was working consistently off the ball to get open with purpose, and took it to the bucket when opportunities presented themselves.
Other Player Notes
Thomas Gipson picked up exactly 0 points, 0 rebounds and 2 fouls in the first half. Kept working hard, eventually started finding him in the paint, and Gip finished the game with 7 points, 7 boards on 3-6 shooting.
Nino Williams played well in spurts (intertwined with some notable stupidity), and finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds (6 offensive boards) in a team-high 32 minutes.
Wesley Iwundu finished with 9 points, 2 boards, 3 assists.
TCU's Trey Zeigler was the class of their team tonight, with a team-leading 19 points, 4 boards, 2 assists, and 2 blocks in a game-high 35 minutes. Kyan Anderson was held to be a relative non-factor, with 8 points on 2-7 FG, with 4 assists.
1. Rough but Successful
It wasn't completely what I'd call sloppy, but it was rough. It was gritty. It was a hard-fought win. But the important part - it was a win. The win avoids the first three-game home losing streak since Jim Wooldridge was coach. And while most of us were holding our breath the last couple minutes, guys made their free throws and kept TCU at arms length to the final horn.
2. Is Nino Williams developing a reputation?
Two straight games with Nino Williams committing a flagrant foul (both Flagrant-1 calls). I didn't see the one against Oklahoma State, but the one he committed tonight was just stupid and unnecessary. After the flagrant was called, Nino got called for a personal foul if he so much as looked funny at a TCU player. Is he developing a reputation amongst officials? Time will tell, but I hope not. His energy and effectiveness relies somewhat on a physical, no-holds-barred game. Getting quick whistles will really limit his contributions at times.
3. Keep Sawing Wood
TCU isn't a great team...but they're not a terrible team. We need to take this win and build on it. We still did some bad things, but we also did some good things. First things first, we had the right attitude the whole game. Everyone did. That's a start at rebuilding to where we need to be. Where we're at this season, we just need to put one foot in front of the other, and work on getting better. As one other legendary head coach I can think of would say, "Keep Sawing Wood."
#EMAW travels to the Lloyd Noble center in Norman, Oklahoma to take on traitorous Lon Kruger and the #16/#18 Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday, January 10. Oklahoma is coming off a 21-point shellacking of Texas on the road.