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K-State's Nino Williams: 'We live and die by Marcus'

Marcus Foster returned from suspension and delivered the game winner. Now, is he ready to deliver a solid close to the season?

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in awhile, the Kansas State Wildcats were at full strength and gave observers another "what if" talking point as they knocked off the Oklahoma Sooners for the second time this year.

- This team misses layups and open jumpers with reckless abandon, and volleys rebounds around like hot potatoes.

"We live and die by Marcus. He always takes the big shots for us." - Kansas State senior forward Nino Williams

- But, this team also has a guy who, for all his baggage, sometimes iffy shot selection, and general disinterest for defense, certainly has a flair for the dramatic game-winner, doesn't he?

- Welcome back, Marcus Foster.

- Again ...

- A few folks took issue with my outlining for Marcus why he was largely responsible for the way this 13-13 season has gone.

- They pointed at Foster's age, 19, as too young to be subjected to such direct conversation about leadership and responsibilities that come with it.

- Actually, that seems awfully late to me to start talking to someone who has played sports his whole life about things like accountability and attitude. Regardless, in case those folks just didn't want hear it from me:

- "Like I told you all awhile ago, we lean on him toward the end of games," KSU senior Nino Williams said after the OU win. "We live and die by Marcus. He always takes the big shots for us."

- You can't be "the guy" for your team when you make choices that get you benched and/or suspended. The end.

- When Foster and everyone else are engaged, it's not hard to see why the Wildcats were slotted No. 4 in a jumbled middle of the Big 12 preseason poll.

- The roster isn't an embarrassment of talent riches, but when the energy and attitude is aligned, there's enough there for K-State to give most teams problems.

- The defensive game plan on Big 12 scoring leader Buddy Hield was a great one, as was the choice to push in transition off nearly every OU missed field goal.

- Hield still managed 14 points, but Oklahoma's offense couldn't find a rhythm in a muddy, poorly officiated game (to K-State's benefit) that opened the door to Foster's heroics.

- The players executed the plan that the coaches felt gave the team the best chance to win ... and got the result.

- Funny how that works.

- With five regular-season games left, the goal is to keep growing.

- Keep listening. Keep executing.

- Just doing those things won't necessarily mean wins; not with a slew of Top 25 opponents sandwiched between a pair of road games.

- But, if this team -- which has three Top 25 wins, along with eight losses by six points or less -- puts together six consecutive games of solid basketball, it would provide a little relief from 26 games' worth of turbulence.