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Home Court Magic
K-State fans rush the court after the game against Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on February 10, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)
February 11, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
Rivalry games don't get much better than last night's Sunflower Showdown in Bramlage Coliseum.
From start to finish, K-State's 85-82 overtime win over No. 7/7 Kansas was jam-packed with energy, drama, excitement and heart-stopping moments keeping fans on their feet.
It took character, it took passion, it took aggression and it took the entire K-State basketball team to pull it off, but they did it - the Wildcats beat KU.
"I couldn't be more proud of our guys. I'm just so happy for them," head coach Bruce Weber said. "We talk about leaving a legacy, following up on Rodney (McGurder) and Jordan (Henriquez) and Martavious (Irving's) group and what they did, they want to continue that. For the rest of their lives, they can remember this."
From freshman Marcus Foster coming back on a bad ankle and putting away 20 points to senior Will Spradling playing his heart out in his final Sunflower Showdown to the K-State bench scoring a combined 30 points - led by Nino Williams and D.J. Johnson - it was a night to remember for the Wildcats.
"Coming out the tunnel, seeing all the fans, if that doesn't hype you up then you don't love basketball," Foster said after the game. "We told our guys, 'If you don't love this atmosphere, then don't even come out of the locker room.' It was fun. It was a lot of fun throughout the whole game having our whole crowd behind our back. They make this a tough place to play."
From the game's opening minutes, Bramlage Coliseum was lively. Fans got loud and proud for K-State and just wouldn't stop. The Octagon of Doom was the loudest it's been all season long and it made for an environment unmatched anywhere in the nation.
And after a hard-fought first half where both teams headed to the locker room dinged up with injuries and the score tied at 29, the energy from the fans was crucial for the Wildcats.
"What a crowd. It was so much fun," Weber said. "The energy in the arena, I just appreciate being at K-State. I was sitting there before the game, and it's just a good feeling to be here. You've got good people. Coach (Bill) Snyder's quote, 'I came for the people, I stayed for the people and I came back for the people,' it's so true about this place."
The second half opened just as exciting as the first one closed. Senior Shane Southwell hit five quick points before Foster led K-State on a 9-0 run to give the Wildcats a 46-37 lead with 13 minutes to go. A plethora of free throws and an energized, athletic Andrew Wiggins caught the Jayhawks back up in the game's final minutes and when the buzzer sounded at the end of regulation, the score was tied 69-69.
As the bruised and tired K-State team faced overtime, Weber had one message: "You've worked too hard to not grab this game."
K-State had already given it its all for 40 minutes on the court. Foster turned his ankle, Omari Lawrence's calves were cramping up, Southwell hurt his foot and Spradling had just played the most intense minutes of his life.
"They didn't stop fighting," Kansas junior guard Naadir Tharpe said after the game. "They were fighting the whole game. They were relentless."
Five more minutes was all Weber asked of his team - and that's exactly what he got.
"Our character, we let that overcome the emotion," Weber said with a smile after the game. "We had great character, great toughness in overtime. (It was) just a great team effort. That was the only way we were going to beat them - defend them, out-tough them, out-hustle them and take the game to them, and I thought we did that enough to get the victory."
Foster's 20 points were a game high. Following Foster in scoring was Spradling with 15 points, while Gipson, Williams and Johnson had nine points apiece.
K-State shot 49.2 percent from the field and a season-high 53.3 percent from the three-point arc, and the Wildcats showed poise on defense by holding Kansas to 41.8-percent shooting from the field and only 17.6 percent from three.
While K-State will hit the road for Waco, Texas, this weekend to face the Baylor Bears, the sweetness of last night's victory won't be soon forgotten.
Kansas born and bred, perhaps no one was more excited after the game than Spradling.
"It's something that I grew up hearing about," he said about the rivalry. "Obviously playing in the game makes it even more important and more fun; it's just a blast. Everybody gets excited for it: fans, family. It's one of the best games you could play in."
For a complete game recap, stats and quotes from last night's victory, click here.
K-State's Will Spradling lays up a shot against Kansas at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas on February 10, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)