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Unlikely Heroes

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January 29, 2014
By Kelly McHugh

The K-State men's basketball team snapped a two-game losing skid last night in Bramlage Coliseum by defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 66-58.

While the win may have come a little too close for comfort for K-State, as the Wildcats watched a 12-point halftime lead dwindle down to a one-point game with only six minutes left, the individual performances of senior Will Spradling, junior Nino Williams and freshman Wesley Iwundu - as well as the rest of the K-State bench - kept the Wildcats (15-6, 5-3 Big 12) on top.

"I thought we came out the first half and we played very energized basketball. It was good to be back home and to have the students back here," Weber said after the game. "(We had) great energy from the bench."

Before last night's game, senior Shane Southwell, freshman Marcus Foster and junior Thomas Gipson led the team in scoring. If you looked at the stats going into the game, those three were the likely threats to get the ball in the net.

However, last night that just wasn't the case.

Spradling led all scorers with 17 points, followed by Williams and Iwundu with 13 and 11, respectively. 

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Along with Spradling, who Weber said, as of recent, has settled into his role, it was the Wildcats' bench that made the difference. Spradling and freshman guard Jevon Thomas led all players by dishing out four assists each, while sophomore D.J. Johnson grabbed a team-leading seven rebounds.

"That second group, the subs - Nino, D.J., Will was still in there, Jevon was pressuring - really shut them out," Weber said after the game. "I think it's pretty obvious which group had the energy. That group, if they're going to play hard and get stops, then they're going to play."

And did Weber think his bench saved the day?

"I don't think there's any doubt they did," he responded. "Thomas, Shane and Marcus were 4-for-19 (combined shooting)... not great numbers for our leading scorers."

Spradling agreed that having players ready and willing to step up off the bench has been a key component in the team's success this season.

"This isn't the only game that we've really relied on them," explained Spradling. "Obviously Nino has, in multiple games, come in big. Omari (Lawrence) stepped up, Jevon Thomas has done well off the bench, D.J.'s done well - our bench has been a real factor for us."

Williams scored in the double-digits against Big 12 foes Oklahoma State, Kansas and Oklahoma, and while he isn't in that starting five, he has been making shots and playing big when his team needs him the most.

"There's no doubt that we need Nino," Weber said. "Nino gives us a great spark off the bench. There's probably some good sixth men of the year around and in the league, but he definitely deserves to be in the consideration for that."

With that, the Wildcats hope to stay on track as the team heads to Morgantown, W. Va., on Saturday to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers at 12:30 p.m. The Mountaineers are coming off of a 66-64 road win in Waco, Texas, over Baylor last night.

"It's a big game. We are one game ahead of them in the standing and they already have three road wins," Weber said about the upcoming matchup with the Mountaineers. "That says a lot for them. It's a big game if we're going to stay in the upper half of the league. It's the turn. We'll be halfway through and it gives us a chance to be 6-3 and get another road win on our resume."

For a full recap, stats and quotes from last night's game, click here


WOMEN'S BASKETBALL LOOKS TO BOUNCE BACK VS. OKLAHOMA
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Coming off of a tough loss to the Kansas Jayhawks last Saturday afternoon, K-State women's basketball (8-11, 2-6 Big 12) returns to Bramlage Coliseum tonight to take on the Oklahoma Sooners at 7 p.m.

Oklahoma (13-7, 4-3 Big 12) is coming off of back-to-back wins over Iowa State and TCU and will look to sweep the series against K-State as on Jan. 11 the Wildcats fell 61-50 to the Sooners in Norman, Okla.

"We know we're lining up against an Oklahoma team that's coming in with their groove back on," Patterson said. "They play with unbelievable aggressiveness, so defensively and in transition we're going to have to be on point every second of this basketball game coming up."

For more information on tonight's game, click here.

 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, Mark Janssen or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.