K-State's Wesley Iwundu lays up a shot against Oklahoma State's Phil Forte at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on January 4, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
January 5, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
K-State men's basketball tipped off its Big 12 season with a bang yesterday afternoon defeating the No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys 74-71 in a jam-packed Bramlage Coliseum.
A combined team effort, the young team found it within itself to hang on, snag the lead in the closing minutes and come away with its biggest victory of the season.
"What can you say, it's a great win, a gutsy win by our guys," said K-State head coach Bruce Weber. "They kept battling. I'm not sure it was real pretty at times and it seemed like (Oklahoma State) seemed to control the game, but at that six minute mark or so we made some huge plays and had stops when they counted."
Despite winter break, snowy winter weather and the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Colts in in the NFL playoffs, yesterday afternoon's game was a Bramlage Coliseum sellout as 12,528 fans filled the building to cheer on the Cats.
"An unbelievable crowd again and I was very, very surprised and very, very happy," Weber said. "Basically the place was full and that's without the students. With the Chiefs playing, I didn't know what would happen, but (the fans) were definitely were a difference maker."
After what may have been the most excitement-packed first half of basketball Bramlage Coliseum has seen all season, K-State headed to the locker room trailing the Cowboys 38-37.
A layup from freshman guard Jevon Thomas put K-State up by one point with four seconds remaining on the clock, but it was Oklahoma State's senior Markel Brown who closed the half with a last-second layup pushing the Cowboys ahead.
Senior and recent team-leading scorer Shane Southwell wound up in foul trouble in the opening minutes of the game, so junior Nino Williams took it on his shoulders to step up and posted big numbers for the Wildcats in the first half. Perfect from the free throw line and 3-6 from the field, Williams put away 10 first-half points and finished the game with a season-high 15 points.
Last year, in the Wildcats' 73-67 home win over Oklahoma State on Jan. 5, 2012, Williams scored had a career-high 17 points - there's just something about playing the Cowboys, he said.
"I feel like, I'm going to get a chance to play and a chance to prove myself against them and I think they kind of respect me now because every time we've played them I've played well," Williams said after yesterday afternoon's game, "but I think (my teammates) trust in me, so I just go out and play with confidence and play my role."
Just when you thought the game couldn't get any more exciting - or nail biting - the second half was underway.
Despite a mini-run from Oklahoma State to open the half and put the Cowboys ahead by four, the Wildcats found a way to keep fighting. A three-pointer from Will Spradling got fans on their feet and put K-State within one point.
The comeback was nothing less than a solid, combined team effort with Foster, Williams and Gipson leading the way in scoring (17, 15 and 10 points, respectively) and freshman Jevon Thomas' making five crafty assists. Senior Will Spradling and Freshman Wesley Iwundu finished the game with nine points followed by Southwell who finished with six points, all scored in the second half.
"(Oklahoma State) is a potential Final Four team, I don't think three's any doubt and we were able to compete with them and find a way to win," Weber said. "We're 1-0 in the Big 12, so now we've just got to go one at a time, and it's the team that's the most consistent in the long haul that ends up winning it. That's got to be one of our goals, to stay consistent."
Though K-State missed its fair share of free throws shooting only 69.4 percent from behind the line, when they needed it most Gipson and Williams were there. Gipson hit two free throws giving K-State a 3-point lead with 24.4 seconds remaining on the clock, and despite missing his first shot, Williams hit his one free throw with 6 seconds to go giving K-State a four-point lead. The Cowboys' sophomore guard Phil Forte answered with a deep three-point shot and the Cowboys were clinging to a one-point lead in the game's final seconds.
The environment in Bramlage Coliseum was electric.
It was 72-71. There were five seconds to go and Williams headed back to the free throw line.
This time, he made them both.
And with that, the rest is history. When that final buzzer sounded the Octagon of Doom erupted as K-State celebrated its first home win over a Top-10 team since it beat Missouri in Jan. 7, 2012, and the 12th overall in Bramlage Coliseum history.
K-State continued its winning streak to nine games, and will continue down its Big 12 schedule with back-to-back road games starting with a trip to TCU to take on the Horned Frogs at 7 p.m. on Jan. 7 before venturing to Kansas on Saturday, Jan. 11.
"It was a good win for us," said Gipson. "It was one of the toughest games we've played so far, and for us to be young and for us to come out and get a huge win over the No. 6 team in the nation, it feels really good.
"(Now,) we just have to be smart on the road. People want to win at home, but we've just got to play smart, get a win and it all just starts on defense. People play harder when they're at home, so we have to play hard too and step it up a notch."
For stats, quotes and more on yesterday evening's game check out: K-State Upends No. 6/6 Oklahoma State.
K-State's Jevon Thomas and Will Spradling celebrate at the end of the game against Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on January 4, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
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