Complete Team Effort Surges Wildcats to Win
A game filled with energy and intensity, before a crowd of nearly 15,000, the Wildcats had one of their best complete team performances of the 2014-15 season.
"Playing (at the Sprint Center) is a special opportunity for our kids, I told them all week that they had to take advantage of it," said K-State head coach Bruce Weber after the game. "That crowd was great. It was energizing, but we also told them that they needed to feed the crowd. They can't feed off the crowd, they needed to feed the crowd and I thought they played some pretty good basketball."
Senior Nino Williams led the team in scoring with 17 points, while senior Thomas Gipson (14 points) and sophomores Marcus Foster (10 points) and Wesley Iwundu (10 points) all also had points in the double digits. Overall, K-State shot a season-best 61.5 percent from the field (24-of-39), which was the highest of the Bruce Weber era and the highest by a Wildcat team since 2004.
"Being the leading scorer, sometimes I feel a little pressure like I have to score, but tonight, I just felt relaxed because I didn't have to go out and score," explained Foster who leads the team in scoring averaging 14.8 points per game. "My teammates all took care of their jobs tonight. I knew we could score like this, it was just when we were going to, and tonight we finally figured it out."
Overall, from an arena energizing slam-dunk by Iwundu to big-time blocks from junior Brandon Bolden to clutch three-pointers from Foster to just-when-you-needed them points from Gipson and Williams, yesterday's win came by way of a complete team effort.
"This is usually a turnaround game for us going into conference play and finishing out the year," said Williams (at last year's Wildcat Classic K-State beat Gonzaga while the year prior the K-State beat Florida). "I thought this was our best game overall as a team. It was a good win for us."
While the team finished the game strong and earned the win, it was K-State's solid first-half performance that gave the Wildcats the edge over the Aggies.
In the first half, the Wildcats shot 82 percent from the field (on 14-of-17 shooting). It marked the Wildcats third-best shooting percentage half in school history, and the first time K-State has shot above 80 percent since 1994. In the first half alone, seven Wildcats recorded points with Nino Williams and Wesley Iwundu (nine and eight points, respectively) leading the way.
"Obviously, when you execute and shoot the ball like that, that's pretty impressive," said Weber about his team's shooting last night. "I think that the 82 percent in the first half and 61 overall is pretty good. Some of that is just that we were a little more patient, we took care of the ball and didn't turn it over as much, that gives us opportunities to score."
Next up for K-State is a game against Texas Southern at 2 p.m. on Dec. 28 in Bramlage Coliseum. No easy matchup, Texas Southern (2-8) is coming off of a 71-64 upset win over Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan, yesterday afternoon.
"It doesn't get any easier for us from this position right now," said Foster. "We're going from playing Texas A&M to Texas Southern to Georgia and then playing in the best conference n the country, so we have to keep playing with a lot of energy."
For a complete recap, stats, photos and more on last night's game, please click here.
Women's Basketball Remains Perfect at Home
Yesterday afternoon in Bramlage Coliseum K-State Women's basketball beat Grambling State, 61-38.
The Wildcats were led by junior Deborah Meeks who had a career-game as she scored a career-high 16 points on a career-high four three-pointers and grabbed a career-best six rebounds.
"It was good to see Meeks play well today," said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie. "I think that is a step forward for her today to knock some shots down. More than that, she did more than knock the shots down, she also got to the free throw line four times. I thought she had a pretty good rhythm today out on the floor; she was recruited as a really good three point shooter and it looked like she found her stroke today."
Before yesterday's game, Meeks - who has come in off the bench in eight of the Wildcats' nine games this season - was averaging just 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds.
Meeks transferred to K-State from Trinity Valley Community College where she helped Trinity Valley to the 2014 NJCAA National Title and a 36-1 record. She was selected to the NJCAA All-Tournament team and averaged 9.6 points and 2.7 rebounds during the 2013-14 season with Trinity Valley.
"I think particularly in juco, it just takes them some time - the learning curve can be a little bit of everything from the demands that are so much different," explained Mittie about the difficulty of transferring from junior college to a NCAA Division I program. "Certainly academically, in the classroom, you go through that for the first time. So it just takes some time. In Deborah's case, you are moving her around so it takes some time to get down the offense."
It wasn't just Meeks who had a career-game, freshman Shaelyn Martin from Salina, Kansas, recorded a career-high 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.
Next up for the 8-1 Wildcats is a matchup against Abilene Christian on Monday, December 22 at 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum. The game will be aired on FOX Sports Kansas City.