March 2, 2014
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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State got a season-high 38 points from its reserves to run its home court winning streak to a Bramlage Coliseum-record 15 games with an 80-73 win over No. 15/17 Iowa State before a sold-out crowd on Saturday evening.
The victory also gave K-State (20-9, 10-6 Big 12) 20 for a school-record eighth consecutive season and 10 in conference play for the fifth straight season. The Wildcats have now won 10 of their last 13 meetings against ranked teams on their home court, including five in a row this season.
The 15-game home court winning streak is the longest at a home venue since the Wildcats rattled off 20 in a row at Ahearn Field House from Jan. 28, 1981 to Jan. 30, 1982. The squad is now one win away from going unbeaten at home in league play for first time since the 1974-75 team went 7-0 in Big Eight play.
"Obviously, this a really good team win for us," said head coach Bruce Weber. "They had two special players tonight in (Melvin) Ejim and (DeAndre) Kane, who are two of the best players in the Big 12. We had major foul trouble in the first half and probably the key to the game was our bench points, 38-2. We had some unconventional lineups in there. They did not go down. They kept battling. One of our goals was to hold them under 70. We did not quite make it, but we had good stops down the stretch."
Senior Shane Southwell led five Wildcats in double figures with a team-high 13 points, which included four 3-point field goals, while junior Thomas Gipson and sophomore D.J. Johnson each added 12 points. Freshmen Marcus Foster and Wesley Iwundu also were in double figures with 11 points each.
K-State eclipsed the 80-point barrier for just the third time this season and the second time in Big 12 play, as the team connected on 42.4 percent (25-of-59) from the field. The Wildcats connected on a season-best 79.3 percent (23-of-29) from the free throw line. The 38 bench points were a season-high and marked the 25th time in 29 games that reserves have scored in double-digits.
The defense was again stellar for the Wildcats, as they held Iowa State (22-6, 10-6 Big 12) to 10 points below its Big 12's best scoring average (83.6 ppg.) on just 34.8 percent shooting (23-of-66), including 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from 3-point range. It was the Cyclones' second worst shooting effort of the year.
K-State fell behind early, 9-4, at the 14:55 mark of the first half, but used a 16-0 run over the course of the next 4:45 to take an 11-point lead at the 10:49 mark. The 16-0 spurt included three 3-pointers from Southwell, who came off the bench for the third consecutive game after not playing against Baylor and TCU due to a foot injury. His effort helped propel the bench to 29-0 effort in the first half.
Trailing 33-21 with 5:18 in the half, Iowa State slowly chipped away at the deficit, using a 13-4 run to cut it to 37-34 with less than a minute before halftime behind the stellar effort of seniors Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane, who combined for 28 of the Cyclones' 34 first-half points. Ejim, who finished the game with game-highs of 30 points and 16 rebounds, had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Johnson was able to give the Wildcats a 39-34 edge at the break on a put back with 18 seconds left. The sophomore had a career-tying 12 points, including eight in the opening half.
The opening 10 minutes of the second half saw an increased intensity level that included an Ejim technical foul as Iowa State tied the game at 55-all with 10:55 remaining on a pair of Ejim free throws before the Cyclones took a 58-56 lead on an Ejim 3-pointer with 9:49 left.
Both teams traded baskets and were deadlocked at 69-all with 1:59 remaining before senior Will Spradling nailed a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead for good it would not relinquish at the 1:37 mark. K-State made 8-of-11 free throws over the final 1:22 to seal the victory.
"Will (Spradling) had a lot of big buckets down the stretch," said Weber. "Shane (Southwell) making the threes in the first half, getting him back and going and that was great for him. I thought the big guys did a good job. D.J. (Johnson) and Thomas (Gipson) getting some points in the paint, which Iowa State does not usually allow too much."
The Cyclones were paced by Ejim's stellar performance, while Kane added 24 points and eight rebounds.
"We set a Bramlage record," said Weber. "It is great for our seniors to leave a legacy and we have to finish that next Saturday. Right now, we have second place. Right now, we have to go to Oklahoma State, and it is in our own hands to see if we can get another road win and see if we can maintain second place. Neither of our last two games will be easy. Now we just have to enjoy this."
K-State begins the final week of the regular season with a quick turnaround, as the Wildcats travel to Stillwater, Okla., to face Oklahoma State (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) on ESPN's Big Monday at 8 p.m.
The Wildcats will wrap up the regular season on Saturday when they play host to Baylor (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) on Senior Day on Saturday, March 8 at 12:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to celebrate the accomplishments of seniors Omari Lawrence, Ryan Schultz, Shane Southwell and Will Spradling.
Tickets for the home finale on March 8 can be purchased through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at (800) 221.CATS or online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets.