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Weber, Players Talk About Ole Miss Game


GO WILDCATS
GO WILDCATS

GO WILDCATS

Dec. 3, 2013

K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Head coach Bruce Weber and requested players spoke to the media on Tuesday to discuss their match-up with Ole Miss in the inaugural Big 12-SEC Challenge at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Bramlage Coliseum. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

The contest will be the fourth meeting between the two schools and the first since the 2009 Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Rebels are 3-0 all-time vs. the Wildcats, which includes a 67-65 win at Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 24, 2001.

Tickets can be purchased for as low as $25 for bench and general admission seating through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office with chairbacks priced at $40. Fans can also purchase four bench tickets for $75, while groups of 12 or more can get bench tickets for $15 each. These tickets are available online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets or by calling (800) 221-CATS.

Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the challenge of the game against Mississippi...
"Mississippi is very good and off to a good start. When you look at last year's team and see that they lost some big guys, I thought maybe they would not be quite as good, but I think they might even be better than a year ago. Early in the season, they seemed to know their roles, and they had good guard play. I think last year they depended so much on Henderson and this year, with him being out a little bit and the other guards kind of stepping up, it allows them to not be totally dependent on him. They are good when he is in because he gives them a different turn, and he can score in a lot of ways. When he is out they still have guys that can make plays. In the tournament the other day, the guards were all averaging 15 points and the big kid (Demarco Cox) was the MVP for the tournament. He averaged a double-double for the tournament. So it is a big challenge. We are playing at home. We cannot back down. We have to come ready and this has to be a battle. We have to be on our toes and going at them and keep fighting to see if we can get a victory at the end."

On blocked shots...
"I think they are fourth in the country, and I think at this point they are averaging about nine a game. We are going to have to finish in the paint, be strong, and see if we can get them in foul trouble. They do not get in foul trouble. When you study their stats, nobody has fouled out yet. Part of it is that they play zone and they block shots. They are pretty good at that. We have to do a good job. We have to go in and challenge them and really take it to them. We cannot go in scared or trying to avoid contact. We have to go in and see if we can get them into a little bit of foul trouble. They have pretty good depth with those big young kids, with the two they start and then they bring in the international kid. They are both pretty good players."

On scouting...
"Alvin (Brooks III) had the scout last year, so he kept the scout this year. Like I said, every year is different, and they have a little different mix. They did lose their big guys and those guys were pretty important players for them last year, but it seems like these other guys just picked up where they left off and the point guard is playing at a high level right now. He has some scoring, but also creating for them. It is a tough challenge. Penn State is a little bit like us, not real big. They were in the game until the end. They were up and down and back and forth. It came down to a handful of possessions at the end. Now we have a chance to be at home in Bramlage with hopefully a great environment. I hope our guys rise up, and we play with the same energy that Penn State did."

On how a win can make up for the losses...
"I do not know if it makes up for it, but it is a big step. We have talked about December being a real positive month for us and taking a big step of improvement. This is an opportunity to gain some confidence and start feeling good about ourselves. We are going to have to have guys play. We would have beat Charlotte if we had three or four guys play well, but we only had one or two guys play well. You cannot depend on just one or two guys on a consistent basis if you are going to beat good quality teams."

On the effect of a big crowd at Bramlage...
"The energy has to be there. It helps us. They are an experienced team and their guard play is so good. It energizes you and helps you play at a high level. If we guard well, we have been pretty solid defensively and if they cause a lot of problems. They are good with the dribble and they have some inside presence. They push the basketball and obviously (Marshall) Henderson can make shots. They are making nine 3's a game I think, so they can score in a lot of ways.  We have to limit their easy looks and take care of the basketball. If your guards get energy going, then you start feeling good about yourself and that is when the crowd becomes a factor."

On who will guard Marshall Henderson...
"It is a tough thing, because the other guys are playing well too. When he is not out, Will (Spradling) is going to have a challenge. He will guard the point and then when Nigel (Johnson) comes in, we will put him on the point and put Will on Henderson. Will chases better than any of the other guys, and he is older and been through it, so he will have to guard him and Omari (Lawrence) a little bit too. We hope our experience and our experienced guys that have been through it and have good defensive principles can help us.

On Marshall Henderson's play...
"You just cannot let him get too many easy looks and get in the rhythm. He is going make some tough shots. He makes tough shots, but we just have to limit the easy rhythm shots. They play off his energy. When he gets going and starts talking and gets into it, they all seem to play at another level."

On the game comparing to conference play...
"You have to play good teams somewhere. I am glad this year it is at home. It is a fun thing and you learn about your team just like we learned about the team in Puerto Rico. Now we will learn a little more about your team and if your conference can do well, it is obviously a positive thing. The wins help individual teams, but it also helps the league because we are putting together a league RPI, which in the long run means it will stick with you the rest of the year."

On the attitude towards the game...
"You have to keep your composure, but you cannot back down to it. I think that is our biggest thing that we have talked about as a staff and are going to emphasize today. We have to meet their challenges. We have to go at them, whether they are going to the basket or whether we are guarding them. We have to fight, but do it without fouling and getting ourselves in a bind that way.

Senior Guard Will Spradling
On guarding Marshall Henderson...
"Just chase him and force him into bad shots. He takes a lot of bad shots, but he will knock some down. If he makes a shot and it is a tough one, you just have to play on and do not let it affect how you guard him the next time."

On if it is different guarding someone like Marshall Henderson...
"Not really. (Former Oklahoma State guard) Keaton Page kind of shot it like him, not to the extent of putting up 14 threes in one game, but he was putting up a lot of threes. I guarded him for two years. That was kind of a good person to compare him to."

On the opportunity this game presents to them...
"It will be a big game for us. Get the preseason turned around for us. We had a rocky start, and we should have a good home crowd on Thursday."

On what a good crowd could do for them...
"It could really affect us. It brings energy to the game and to the gym. It helps us get pumped up."

On knocking down a couple threes last game...
"I have been in the gym a lot this week. Obviously in Puerto Rico it was hard to get in a shoot. We did not really have time and the gym. This week I really took advantage of being home and being able to get into the gym as much as I could. I felt like I got back on track."

Junior Forward Thomas Gipson
On how big the game is...
"Our focus is to try and go 7-0 in December, and this is going to be a big step for us, a big challenge. Hopefully we can rise to the occasion and win."

On how important it is to get off to a strong start...
"It is important because we lost a couple games that we were supposed to win that will probably decide whether we are in the tournament or not. If we win against this team then I am pretty sure that we will have a chance to go into the tournament."

On the problems that Ole Miss presents...
"They kind of take crazy shots, Marshall Henderson does, but they go in. I respect that, but we just have to play team defense. Their bigs are good. I have a challenge, the guards have a challenge, we all have a challenge, and we have to step up to it."

On if they looked ahead last year to Ole Miss...
"Coach harps about it all the time. He thinks we were not focused on LaSalle. We were just looking forward to the next round. I think that is what happened, and that is probably why we lost. LaSalle came 20 points ahead in the first half. I think this is kind of a rematch of last year."

On what makes their bigs so affective...
"They do the little things. They rebound, block shots, and get easy dump-off points. My main focus is to not let that happen. They are extremely athletic and taller than me. I just have to play smarter."

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