Williams Does it Again

"I thought it was a good team win," said head coach Bruce Weber after the game. "It was a great environment... I was worried about an 11 o' clock start, but you walk out there and the students are all there; that whole section of students. It was a great turnout. I was excited about that. That was great for our guys."
Fans had the opportunity to "Stripe Out Bramlage" and help benefit the American Cancer Society and Coaches vs. Cancer. Each section in Bramlage Coliseum was designated either a purple or white t-shirt with the sales going directly to the organizations. 
"I thought it looked great," said Weber of the striped arena. "Plus, it's a great cause. Coaches have done 18 or 20 years of it (Coaches vs. Cancer) and have raised over $100 million that helps people with a very, very difficult disease that's hard to battle. We've made progress with that. It was a great thing for our coaches and the school to be involved in."
While the stripes made for an exciting atmosphere off the court, the Wildcats put on a show of their own on the court. 
For the third straight game, the Wildcats were led by senior Nino Williams, who finished the game with a team-high 20 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the field to go along with seven rebounds. 
Averaging 20 points in his last three games, the senior from St. Louis, Missouri, credits his recent success to a new mindset. Williams is older this year - he's smarter about the league and its opponents, but most importantly, he's playing every game like it's his last.
 
"I'm older now. I understand ways of scoring, the spots I'm going to score in," said Williams after yesterday's win. "I don't try to get too high or too low, I'm just trying to stay neutral and be consistent."
But it's not just his mindset and smarts putting Williams on the scoreboard time and time again. His shot - his unique jump shot - has been a key factor in his productivity on the court.
"That midrange shot, sometimes it's simple basketball. Take what they give you," explained Weber when asked his thoughts on Nino's ability to make the 10- to 15-foot jumpers almost without flaw. "That's what Nino's doing. It's good simple basketball, and he's got it down. That midrange shot is not really a part of today's basketball world."
While it might be uncommon on the basketball court today, that jump shot has become a staple part of Williams' basketball world, and it's working. In the first half of yesterday's win, Williams was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, hitting the midrange jumper time and time again. It wasn't until the game's second half, with 15 minutes to go, that Williams missed his first shot (he was 8-for-8 shooting at that point). 
"Nino got us going with his shot. His shot has been magical," continued Weber. "His first one, I don't think he even looked at the hoop; he just caught it and shot it. To have 20 points and seven rebounds today after shooting 22 points and eight rebounds (at Iowa State), that's a good effort."
The Wildcats were stellar on both ends of the court, as the team's 57.1 field goal percentage was the highest in a Big 12 game since shooting 57.4 percent at Iowa State on Jan. 6, 2006, while the defense held the Cowboys' to their second-lowest point total and season-low in both rebounds (19) and 3-point field goals (3).
K-State has now won five of its last six, an impressive feat considering earlier this month, when the Wildcats fell to Oklahoma State in Stillwater in the season's Big 12 opener, they dropped to a 7-7 on the year.
Along with Williams' offensive production, the Wildcats' midseason turnaround has been fueled by the team's leading scorer in sophomore guard Marcus Foster and the bench's best producer as of late, junior guard Justin Edwards. 
Foster and Edwards finished yesterday's game with 14 points apiece. While Foster had a team-high five assists, Edwards wasn't far behind as he dished out three of his own. 
Settling into his role with the team after spending the 2013-14 season on the bench due to NCAA transfer rules, Edwards has become a little more comfortable on the court with every game. 
"I think I'm just playing my game and relaxing more," explained Edwards. "I'm helping Marcus get a break, helping Wesley (Iwundu) get a break. I think I was pressing myself a bit too much, but I'm trying to relax now, let the game come to me and not always focus on offense. I think I've been focusing more on defense, and that helps me more on offense. That's been the key for me."
The Wildcats are back in Bramlage Coliseum this Tuesday with a matchup against West Virginia (16-3, 4-2 Big 12) at 6 p.m.
"It was a good team win. Everybody played well, everybody did something," concluded Williams. "I happened to be the leading scorer, but Nigel (Johnson) played well, Jevon (Thomas) played well and all the wings played well. Today was just a good team confidence booster. We know it's over now, so it's on to the next game and being 1-0."
For stats, quotes, photos and more on yesterday's win, please click here.
Also, don't miss tomorrow's K-State Sports Extra with special coverage from K-State Athletics' unveiling of the new "Tex Winter Drive." With interviews from Coach Weber and a few of Winter's former players, tomorrow's story will highlight the excitement of a weekend filled with honor for the Wildcat basketball legend. 
 

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