Mar 1, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Shane Southwell (1) blocks out Iowa State Cyclones forward Dustin Hogue (22) during the Wildcats' 80-73 win at Fred Bramlage Coliseum. (Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports)
March 2, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
With last night's 80-73 win over No. 15 Iowa State in Bramlage Coliseum, the K-State men's basketball team (20-9, 10-6 Big 12) has now won 15 consecutive home games.
Fifteen straight is a Bramlage Coliseum best and a feat unmatched since1981-82 when the Wildcats won 20 straight in Ahearn Field House.
"Fifteen in a row, that's a great legacy for all the seniors and all the guys," head coach Bruce Weber said, "and now you've got to keep it going, and the next group's got to make sure they can keep it going. It's defense, rebounding, believing you can win, the crowd; it was just a good, energized building tonight."
Last night's win also marked the Wildcats' eighth-consecutive season with at least 20 wins and was K-State's fifth home victory over a ranked opponent this season.
"We play with great energy at home," continued Weber. "I think some of it's our youth, they feed off the crowd. There's no doubt we play off this crowd and believe we can win."
With senior Will Spradling and freshman Marcus Foster finding themselves in foul trouble early, it was senior Shane Southwell and the entire K-State bench who stepped up and stole the show.
Going 4-for-4 from behind the arc, Southwell put away 12 points in the first half as he helped lead K-State on a 16-0 run to secure a sturdy lead.
"Coach has been on me a lot about staying disciplined, and I think I stayed disciplined," Southwell said. "I was talking to myself while the ball was coming to me saying, 'Stay disciplined on my shot.' I haven't been as disciplined with my shot this year, so that was the key to my shot today."
Along with Southwell, K-State's bench outscored the Cyclone bench 38-2 with Southwell leading the way with 13 points, followed by sophomore D.J. Johnson with a career-tying 12 points and freshman Nigel Johnson with seven points.
"We had major foul trouble in the first half, so probably the key to the game was our bench," Weber said. "We had some unconventional lineups in there."
Starter Thomas Gipson agreed that the play of the bench is a key element to the success of this young Wildcat basketball team.
"I feel like we're not skipping a heartbeat once the second group comes in," Gipson said. "D.J. plays extremely hard, at times he plays harder than me and that gives our team a boost of energy. People want to play harder; they feed off of D.J.'s energy. That's why we have shirts that say 'Next Man Up' because at any moment in time one of the guys on the bench can be one of the star players and get a key win for us. We're all in it together."
A complete team effort, Gipson added a team-leading eight rebounds, while freshmen Wesley Iwundu and Marcus Foster scored 11 points each.
"It was a great team effort, a lot of big plays," explained Weber. "Will made big baskets down the stretch and had a big pass to Gipson. Shane making those threes in the first half - that was great for him - and Marcus jumps up and makes a great shot. I thought our big guys did a good job today, D.J. and Thomas, getting some points in the paint."
With last night's win, K-State now sits in a four-way tie with Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas for second place in the Big 12.
The Cats have a quick turnaround as up next is a trip to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) on Monday, at 8 p.m., for ESPN's Big Monday.
While the record home winning streak and the excitement over another ranked opponent will linger, Weber said it is now time to focus on the next task at hand, and that is working to grab another road win at Oklahoma State.
"It was just a good home win," said Weber. "We beat the No. 1 RPI team (Kansas) and now we beat the No. 9 RPI team in Iowa State. We've got six, seven, eight top-50 and top-25 wins, and we set a Bramlage record. It's great for our seniors to leave a legacy, and we want to finish that next Saturday. Right now, we've got second place and we've got to go to Oklahoma State. It's in our hands to see if we can get another road win and maintain second place."