February 9, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
Marcus Foster put on a show yesterday afternoon in Bramlage Coliseum as he opened K-State's game against No. 13/18 Texas hitting back-to-back 3-pointers followed by an alley-oop from fellow freshman Wesley Iwundu.
The crowd went wild. The energy in the Octagon of Doom was simply electric.
"MAR-CUS FOS-TER," was chanted over and over again and echoed through the rafters - and that was just the first half of the Wildcats' 74-57 win over the Longhorns; it was just a glimpse of what Foster had in store for the rest of the game.
The freshman from Wichita Falls, Texas, finished with a career-high 34 points. It was the most points from a freshman in the Big 12 this season and the most points from a K-State freshman since Michael Beasley put away 39 points on March 1, 2008, against Kansas.
He became only the third true freshman in K-State history to break the 30-point mark, joining Beasley and Mike Evans (1974).
Pretty cool for an 18-year-old.
"It's an amazing feeling to be in the same category as guys like Jacob Pullen and Michael Beasley," Foster said after the game. "It was just one of those days. We always talk about being on the magic level, and tonight, I was on the magic level."
That magic level for Foster was shooting 13-of-16 from the field, 5-of-8 from behind the three-point arc and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. He was on fire, to say the least.
"Anybody that can do that against a top-15 team in the country, that says a lot," junior Thomas Gipson said. "We're proud of him, and he's staying humble and hungry. That's good because we're going to need him the rest of this season."
Even Texas head coach Rick Barnes couldn't help but compliment Foster's outstanding performance.
"He's strong, and he plays hard," Barnes said after the game. "I love the passion he plays with. He doesn't seem to get rattled. He competes. He's a great player."
But for K-State head coach Bruce Weber, Foster scoring over 30 points was not a huge surprise.
"It's so funny because when he first got here we were like, 'Man, he's pretty good in the summer work outs, is he going to be good in practice?'" Weber began. "And he was pretty good in practice - the leading scorer - and then it was, 'Is he going to do it in the games?'
"He got (25) against Oral Roberts, and then we were sitting around and somebody said someone had 30 somewhere and they said, 'Marcus can get that one day.' Someone just said it. So we knew it was going to happen."
So far this season the freshman is turning heads by averaging 14.7 points per game. While he's been shooting well all year, he said as of recent he's made a conscious effort to eliminate his uncertainty when he goes up for a shot.
"I was just relaxed, stayed on my shots and got myself going on defense first," Foster said. "Going back watching film, I feel like I take a lot of questionable shots, so I wanted to limit the questionable shots and take good shots."
Following Foster, senior Will Spradling had nine points while Iwundu and sophomore D.J. Johnson had eight apiece. While Gipson, a usual high-scorer for the Wildcats, finished the game with only three points, his 11 rebounds were huge in K-State's success yesterday afternoon.
"It was one of those days, obviously it was a special day," Weber said. "We were in the zone shooting. It's really the energy, the excitement, the passion. We played off of the crowd. They did it to Kansas last week. - they seemed to be everywhere making plays and making shots and we did it to them today. Now, can we continue that? We've been pretty good at home."
K-State (16-7, 6-4 Big 12) has a quick turnaround as it returns to Bramlage Coliseum on Monday evening to take on No. 8/9 Kansas (18-5, 9-1 Big 12) at 8 p.m., in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown.
Though yesterday's win was an exciting one for both the fans and the team, the Wildcats know they have to put it behind them and focus solely on the Jayhawks with tipoff just over 48 hours after the final horn went off Saturday.
"It's exciting to be able to hear the fans chanting my name like that," Foster said, "but you know, I'm going to let it humble me. I'm going to stay hungry and get ready for Monday."
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