Dec. 6, 2013
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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Freshman Marcus Foster's 3-pointer with 1:25 play capped a late 8-0 run by Kansas State, as the Wildcats outlasted Ole Miss, 61-58, on Thursday in the inaugural Big 12-SEC Challenge game at Bramlage Coliseum.
Foster and junior Thomas Gipson led K-State (5-3) with 15 points each, while freshman Wesley Iwundu notched his second career double-double with 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.
"This is a huge win for us there is no doubt," said head coach Bruce Weber. "We did not play very well and I am not sure that we coached very well. We fought and toughed it out. We have had similar games with Northern Colorado and Charlotte, but this time we found a way to win. Those games we missed free throws then didn't make plays on the defensive end, but we did tonight."
With its offense struggling, K-State turned to its tenacious defense to hold Ole Miss (6-1) to a season-low 58 points on 37.9 percent shooting, including 16.7 percent from 3-point range. The Rebels entered the game, averaging 82 points on 44.3 percent shooting, including 39.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Wildcats have now held six of their last seven opponents to their season-low in points, including 60 points or less on five occasions.
"Anytime you hold a team like Ole Miss to 29 points each half, you have done a great job defensively," said Weber. "We held Marshall Henderson to 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting with Will (Spradling) and a couple of freshmen. They stayed locked in and never let him get in a rhythm. This was about a gut check. They went up by four points but we never gave in."
Down 53-49 with 4:18 to play after a 7-0 spurt by the Rebels, Gipson got the pivotal run started with a traditional 3-point play with a lay-up and free throw to cut the gap to just one point. Foster then gave the Wildcats the lead for good with two free throws over the next 37 seconds before his 3-pointer from the corner extended the lead to 57-53 with 1:25 remaining.
After a jumper by senior Shane Southwell to extend the lead back to four points, Henderson gave Ole Miss another chance with an off-balanced 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 59-58 with 29 seconds to go.
Spradling put the Wildcats up 60-58 with a free throw before Iwundu rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Henderson with one second left to save the game.
Although K-State struggled from the field, shooting just 36.5 percent, the team pounded the glass for a 43-38 rebounding edge. The squad is now 24-2 under Weber when out-rebounding an opponent in the last two seasons. Overall, the Wildcats shot 36.5 percent (19-of-52) from the field, including 25 percent (4-of-16) from 3-point range, while making just 55.9 percent (19-of-34) from the free throw line.
The trio of freshmen (Foster, Iwundu and Nigel Johnson) accounted for 31 of the team's 61 points and 20 of the 43 rebounds. Johnson, who made most of his impact in the first half, finished the game with six points, five rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes.
The first half proved to be a defensive battle and featured four lead changes with K-State in primary control after the 8:52 mark, but the Wildcats were never able to stretch the lead to more than five. The teams traded buckets for the final minutes, as K-State entered the locker room with 31-29 lead.
Junior Jarvis Summers led all scorers with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-9 field goals, while Henderson added 13 points off the bench.
K-State will look to extend its winning streak to three games on Tuesday when South Dakota (3-4) visits Bramlage Coliseum at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on FSN Kansas City.
Tickets can be purchased for as low as $15 for bench and general admission seating through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office with chairbacks priced at $25. Fans can also purchase four bench tickets for $50, while groups of 12 or more can get bench tickets for $10 each. These tickets are available online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets or by calling (800) 221-CATS.