SE: Perfecting the Little Things

Following a string of stellar games, K-State women’s basketball junior Breanna Lewis is honing in on the little things. 

Lewis, a 6-foot-5 forward from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has helped her team to four-consecutive Big 12 victories and, along with recording double-doubles in K-State’s previous two wins, has averaged 14.5 points and 9.2 rebounds over the winning streak.

Lewis is among the Big 12’s most elite players this season as she ranks in the top 10 of the conference in six categories – ranking third in scoring (17.0 ppg), third in blocked shots (53), fifth in field goal percentage (56.6), seventh in rebounding (7.5 rpg), seventh in offensive rebounds (2.7 rpg) and ninth in defensive rebounds (4.8 rpg).

Though she’s playing at a high level, she said there is always work to be done and areas to improve upon.

“I’m building off of the things I’m good at – and I’m continuing to get better – but right now I’m trying to focus on the things I’m not so good at and build on them,” she explained. “Like free throws. I’m a big player, I’m a pretty decent player, so everyone is always out to foul me. I don’t want them to use fouling me as a way that’s helpful for them if I’m not a good free throw shooter. I want to be able to score free throws, layups, and ones, things like that. So there are always things to improve on.”

Lewis said while she has spent a lot of extra time in the gym working on her free throws recently and perfecting the little things, she doesn’t only go to the gym to improve – she’s often there to simply clear her mind.  

“I always come to the gym when I’m (stressed) or have a lot of work to do,” Lewis said. “I come to the gym and then do whatever it is I have to do after. It’s a really big stress reliever; I get so focused on basketball that I don’t think about anything else in the world. I get in the zone and shoot free throws. It’s hard to get distracted. It’s a stress reliever for me.” 
In her Wildcat career, Lewis owns the school records for blocks in a single game (8) and blocks in a single season (97 in 2014-15). With her seven blocks in the Wildcats’ win over Kansas last week, Lewis broke the school record for career games with seven-plus blocks (2) and is currently first in school history with a career 2.40 blocks per game. 

“The one thing about Lew, the great thing about her, is that she comes every day and what you see is what you get,” said head coach Jeff Mittie. “She’s not too high or too low, she has a very steady demeanor about her, a very steady work ethic about her. So I’m not surprised by her progress.”

This Saturday, K-State (14-5, 4-4 Big 12) will take on the No. 6/6 Texas Longhorns (19-1, 8-1 Big 12) at 7 p.m., in Bramlage Coliseum, and Lewis will be facing some of the toughest competition she’s seen all year. 

“It’s not a trend with her, she’s done it all year long,” said Mittie about Lewis’ high level of play recently. “Life in the Big 12, you’re going to see different coverages every night, and now she’s going to face one of the most elite centers in the country (Texas’ 6-foot-7 center Imani Boyette). It’s going to be a big challenge, but I think Lew is also in that category across the country. She’s playing that well.”

While it’s true Boyette will be among the most talented centers Lewis will match up with this season, Lewis said she feels prepared for the task at hand. 

“One of our practice players is about 6-foot-7, and he was blocking some of my shots the other day,” Lewis said yesterday afternoon. “It was getting frustrating, but I know it’s what I’m going to see in the game. I worked on ways to get around it with him so in the game I won’t get my shot blocked.”

The Wildcats are riding high into tomorrow evening’s game against Texas as their four-game winning streak includes wins over Oklahoma State (47-44), TCU (58-49), at Kansas (59-46) and, most recently, at Texas Tech (65-53). 

K-State doesn’t have to look too far back in history to find its last upset win over a highly ranked Texas team. Last year, the then-ranked No. 20 Longhorns came to Bramlage Coliseum and were upset by the Wildcats, 66-57. Overall, K-State is 8-5 over Texas in Bramlage Coliseum and the teams have split their last 10 meetings in the series.  

“It’s been exciting to play well and to be on this four-game winning streak,” said Lewis. “We’re hoping to continue to build off of it. I feel like right now our energy is pretty consistent; we’re improving day by day, game by game and practice by practice.”

Tomorrow evening’s game will be aired on ESPN3 with Brian Smoller and Missy Heidrick calling the action, while fans can also listen to the game on the K-State Sports Network with Matt Walters and Kristin Waller on the call. 

For more information on tomorrow’s home matchup with Texas please click here.  

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Following a tough road loss to the No. 9 West Virginia Mountaineers on Tuesday evening, K-State men’s basketball (12-8, 2-6 Big 12) returns home to Bramlage Coliseum tomorrow afternoon to take on Ole Miss (13-7, 3-5 SEC) for the third annual Big 12-SEC Challenge. The non-conference matchup will tip off at 1 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

“This is a chance for us to put an exclamation point on our non conference record,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber. “For us, it’s a huge game. We have a chance to beat a good, solid team in Mississippi and end up with a very good non-conference record. For the league, it’s a chance to really make a statement.” 

Ole Miss is the fourth SEC opponent K-State will see this season as the Wildcats defeated Missouri, 66-42, in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on Nov. 23 and won at Georgia, 68-66, on Dec. 4 before falling at No. 25 Texas A&M, 78-68 on Dec. 12.

“We just have to focus on winning the game,” said K-State freshman guard Kamau Stokes who is among the Wildcats top scorers averaging 9.9 points per game. “(A win) would help us, every win from here on out helps. We’re trying to make a run to the NCAA Tournament, so every game counts. In conference or out of conference, we look at every game the same; this is a game we need to come out focused for and try to get a win.”

So far this season K-State is 9-2 on its home court and undefeated at home against non-conference opponents. However, though it’s not the usual Big 12 foe coming to town this time of year, the Wildcats aren’t looking at this weekend’s matchup any differently. 

“I feel like we have to approach this game with the same approach we do every game and be well prepared for them,” said junior forward D.J. Johnson. “They have some good individual players, and overall they’re a pretty good team. We’re taking the same approach as we do every game.”

For more information on tomorrow’s men’s basketball matchup, please click here

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