Jan. 4, 2014
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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Freshman Marcus Foster paced three Wildcats in double figures with 17 points, as K-State ran its winning streak to nine games with a 74-71 win over No. 6/6 Oklahoma State before a sold-out Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
The win was the first against a Top 10 opponent since defeating No. 3 Missouri, 78-68, on Feb. 21, 2012 and the first at home since knocking off the seventh-ranked Tigers, 75-59, on Jan. 7, 2012.
"What can you say? It is just a great win - a gusty win by our guys," said head coach Bruce Weber. "They just kept battling. I am not so sure it was pretty at times because it seemed like they were controlling the game. About the six minute mark or so we made a nice run. Marcus made a couple of baskets and a nice pass to Thomas (Gipson). Nino (Williams) made some huge plays then we got stops when it counted and that is what you have to do."
It was a closely-contested game the entire way, as teams battled through 15 lead changes and 10 ties with neither holding more than a five-point lead.
Down 60-57 after a Markel Brown free throw with 5:44 to play, K-State (11-3, 1-0 Big 12) used an 8-0 run over a two-minute stretch to capture the lead for good over Oklahoma State (12-2, 0-1 Big 12), which saw a five-game winning streak end. Junior Thomas Gipson started the run with a lay-up at the 5:17 mark before senior Shane Southwell gave the squad the lead with a pair of free throws 30 seconds later. Foster then pushed the lead to 65-60 with a lay-up with 3:36 remaining in the game.
The Cowboys were able to cut the deficit to one point on four occasions down the stretch, including 72-71 with eight seconds left after a 3-pointer by sophomore Phil Forte. However, the Wildcats knocked down each of their last five throws, including three by junior Nino Williams to clinch the victory.
Foster was joined in double figures by Williams, who scored a season-high 15 points on 4-of-7 field goals and 7-of-9 free throws, and Gipson, who recorded his sixth career double-double and second this season with 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman Wesley Iwundu and senior Will Spradling added nine points each, while Thomas posted a season-high eight points to go with a game-high five assists.
Foster, who went 6-of-13 from the field with a pair of 3-pointers, has now scored in double figures in a team-high 12 games with those 12 opportunities coming in the last 13 games. He also grabbed a season-high eight rebounds in 32 minutes. He has at least one 3-pointer in 13 consecutive games.
The nine-game winning streak is the longest of Weber's tenure and the longest since the Wildcats won 10 in a row from Nov. 22, 2009 to Jan. 3, 2010.
The teams battled through numerous ties in the first half before Brown's running lay-up as the clock expired gave Oklahoma State a 38-37 lead at halftime. Williams provided a big spark for K-State in the first half after entering the game when Southwell picked up two early fouls. Williams and Foster each scored 10 points to pace the team in scoring.
Nash led all scorers with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting to pace four Cowboys in double figures. Brown had a near double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds, while reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Marcus Smart and fellow sophomore Phil Forte added 15 and 14 points, respectively.
The defense was again stellar for K-State, as the Wildcats held the high-powered Cowboys to 15 points under their scoring average. OSU connected on just 40 percent (21-of-52) of its field goals, which was its lowest shooting percentage of the year.
The Wildcats also won the rebounding battle for the 10th consecutive game with a 38-37 margin and moved to 30-2 under Weber when out-rebounding their opponent, including 10-1 this season.
K-State scored over 70 points for the fifth consecutive game, connecting on 36.7 percent (22-of-60) from the field and 23.3 percent (5-of-21) from 3-point range. The team posted season-highs for both free throws (25) and free throws attempted (36).
K-State is now 51-50 all-time in conference openers, including 7-11 in the Big 12 era. The Wildcats have now won five of their last six Big 12 openers at home, including consecutive wins over the Cowboys.
It was also the 12th Top 10 win in the history of Bramlage Coliseum and the first under Weber. The Wildcats have now won six of their last nine games against ranked teams at home.
"They are a potential Final Four team, I do not think there is any doubt about that," said Weber. "We were able to compete with them and find a way to win. We are 1-0 in the Big 12, but it is who is consistent over the long haul that ends up winning it and that has to be one of our goal, to stay consistent. Now we just have to worry about TCU on Tuesday, which will not be easy."
The Wildcats return to the court on Tuesday, as they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to play TCU (9-4, 0-1 Big 12) at Daniel-Meyer Arena at 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on the Big 12 Network.