Kansas State Wildcats forward Thomas Gipson (42) puts up a shot against TCU Horned Frogs guard Jarvis Ray and center Karviar Shepherd during first-half action at Bramlage Coliseum (Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports)
February 20, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
When times get tough, K-State men's basketball junior Thomas Gipson is there for his team.
It's no secret he's grown into one of the team's key leaders this season, and it's no surprise that last night when everything started to go wrong for the Wildcats, he was right there to get his team back on track.
Gipson's 16 points and 11 rebounds in last night's 65-53 win over TCU marked his third double-double, the eighth time he's led his team in scoring and the 13th time he's led K-State in rebounding this season.
"I challenged Thomas to get double-doubles the rest of the year and hopefully he can buy into that," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "We need him to have a great finish. He's got to play with great energy, a smile on his face, stay positive, and if he does those things, some days there's going to be points and some days there's not, but he's still very valuable."
So far this season, Gipson is averaging 11.8 points per game and a team-leading 6.5 rebounds per game, and as for recording a double-double in every game the rest of the season like Weber challenged, Gipson said his focus is simply being the best player he can be.
"I honestly didn't even know (I had a double-double)," Gipson said after the game. "I just played a part for my team. They challenged me to rebound, and the points would come. Today, all I was focused on was rebounding, and I'll focus on that the rest of the season."
Despite a sluggish first half for the Wildcats last night, Gipson closed the half with four straight points giving K-State a one-point lead going into the locker room. Though they had the lead, Gipson said at half time, the team lacked energy.
"We were up by one, but the energy really wasn't there," he explained. "The energy really wasn't in the locker room, but luckily we overcame that and we pulled it out and stuck together."
Weber credited the team's lack of energy to its youthful roster, however, with the help of the upperclassmen, and especially Gipson, the Cats stuck together the second half and came away with the win.
"I've grown into (my leadership role)," Gipson said. "During the first half, I really wasn't being that aggressive. I wasn't shooting jump shots that I know I could have made and coach told me I had to take those shots. I was trying to get the ball moving and we came to an agreement. The second half I did a better job trying to step up and be a leader for the freshmen."
Though the team was led on the charts by Gipson, the win was a complete team effort. Freshman Marcus Foster, junior Nino Williams and senior Will Spradling also finished the game scoring in the double-digits with 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"It's disappointing in some ways, but kind of what you expected," Weber said after the game. "Obviously we had three emotional games in a row with Texas, Kansas and then the loss the other night at Baylor, not matter what we say we're probably not going to come out with great emotion and focus, but I give the credit to these guys, in the second half they played with a little more energy, a little more urgency and got a win and now, hopefully we'll regroup and go to Oklahoma and see what we can do."
K-State travels to Norman, Okla., on Saturday to take on the Sooners (19-7, 8-5 Big 12) at 3 p.m. in the Lloyd Noble Center. The last time the two teams faced off was on Jan. 14 in Bramlage Coliseum and K-State came away with a 72-66 win.
"They want to play real fast paced; we play up tempo sometimes, but that's not something we want to do to make it a game of runs," Spradling said about Oklahoma. "We really want to lock down on defense and push the ball when we have opportunities but also take care of the ball and be smart."
For a full recap, stats and quotes from last night's win over TCU, click here.
WEIBERG NAMED NATIONAL FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR
Chad Weiberg, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Development who has led K-State's Ahearn Fund to unprecedented success over the past several years, has been named the 2014 National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) Fundraiser of the Year, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced today.
"It is an honor to receive this recognition on behalf of K-State," said Weiberg. "I am very appreciative and humbled by this acknowledgement from my NAADD colleagues, but this is really a recognition of the great things that are happening at K-State because of the leadership from President Schulz and John Currie, our outstanding coaches who do an unbelievable job teaching our student-athletes, the donors and fans who continue to amaze me with their passion and generosity, and the extremely talented members of the entire athletic department staff and Ahearn Fund team that I am fortunate to be a part of and get to learn from every day."