These guys again: Kansas State
By the end of Big Monday, the fans inside Bramlage Coliseum might sound like Bruce Weber. Kansas State’s fan base delights in nothing more than knocking off rival Kansas, and the Jayhawks anticipate a raucous road environment.
The Wildcats (13-15 overall, 6-9 Big 12) will have to embrace and thrive off of all the crazy going on in the stands, because they are in desperate need of a win.
K-State has lost seven of its last eight, including a 68-57 loss at Kansas (22-5, 11-3) on Jan. 31.
There are, of course, more tangible, on-the-court things the Wildcats have at their disposal, too — and they did beat Oklahoma in Manhattan just over a week ago. They might be eighth in the Big 12 standings, but they have a few things they can hang their proverbial hats on.
In conference games, Kansas State is:
3rd in points allowed, 63.1
4th in 3-point FG% defense, 32.8%
1st in rebounds allowed, 31.7 a game
If K-State is able to score a rivalry win, it will have to do it on the defensive end of the floor.
Now, as a refresher, here are the Wildcats that KU will have to worry about inside the famed “Octagon of Doom.”
No. 11 — Nino Williams, 6-5, senior F
— Jan. 31 at KU: 4 points, 1/7 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 TOs, 1 block, 1 steal in 22 minutes
Questionable headed into the first Sunflower Showdown of the season, Williams wasn’t at full strength vs. KU in Lawrence.
In 15 Big 12 games this season, he has averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and leads his team with 31 offensive rebounds. Williams is shooting 45.3% from the floor in conference and has proven to be K-State’s best free-throw shooter, hitting 88.4%.
In a poor K-State showing at Baylor this past weekend (69-42 loss), Williams only made 2 of 5 from the floor for 4 points in 22 minutes.
Before that he had 4 straight double-digit outings: 13 vs. Texas, 22 at West Virginia, 13 vs. OU, 14 at TCU.
— hoop-math.com update: Williams operates mostly on short- to mid-range offense. 60.7% of his attempts have come on 2-point jumpers. He has hit 56 of 136 (41.2%) in that range, with his percentage dipping over the past few weeks.
No. 42 — Thomas Gipson, 6-7, senior F
— Jan. 31 at KU: 19 points, 7/13 FGs, 5/7 FTs, 7 rebounds (4 offensive), 0 TOs in 30 minutes
If the guy can get 19 points against Kansas on the road, expect an even bigger night from the senior in his last home game against the Jayhawks.
Gipson averages 10.3 points and 5.1 rebounds, while hitting 46.5% of his shots in Big 12 games.
He was the only Wildcat to score in double figures (11 points) at Baylor.
His 4 offensive boards at KU tied his season high, his 7 field goals made still stand as his best this season and his 19 points marked his best scoring performance in conference play.
KU better find a way to keep him off the offensive glass or Gipson might set a handful of new season-best marks.
— hoop-math.com update: Leading K-State in put-backs on offensive rebounds (18), Gipson takes 59.4% of his shots at the rim and converts 67.3% of them (that number has dropped by just under 5 percent since the last game vs. KU).
No. 25 — Wesley Iwundu, 6-7, sophomore G
— Jan. 31 at KU: 4 points, 2/6 FGs, 0/1 3s, 0/2 FTs, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 TOs, 1 block in 29 minutes
Not exactly the biggest scoring threat, the second-year guard averages 5.8 points in the Big 12 while making just 37.2% of his shots, 3 of 11 3-pointers and shooting 68.4% at the foul line.
But he helps K-State get stops, pulls down 3.1 rebounds and ranks second on the team to Jevon Thomas with 2.3 assists a game in the conference.
In two of his more recent games — vs. Oklahoma and at TCU — Iwundu grabbed a combined 8 offensive rebounds. He also had 2 steals as K-State upset OU.
— hoop-math.com update: Of Iwundu’s 133 shot attempts, he only has made 17 away from the rim. So, yeah. KU won’t mind if he settles for jumpers.
No. 1 — Jevon Thomas, 6-0, sophomore G
— Jan. 31 at KU: 2 points, 1/3 FGs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 TO, 4 fouls in 23 minutes
The Jayhawks completely shut him down a few weeks ago, but that’s kind of the way things go for Thomas, who hasn’t topped 6 points once in Big 12 play.
Despite playing 27.0 minutes a game since the start of league play, he averages just 3.3 points. Thomas has made just 32.1% of his shot attempts, 2 of 10 3-pointers and even struggles at the foul line — 11-for-26.
At least he leads the Wildcats with 17 steals in 15 games and averages 3.0 assists.
He actually netted his personal Big 12-high of 6 points at Baylor by shooting 3-for-4.
Thomas hasn’t made a 3-pointer since Jan. 27 against West Virginia.
— hoop-math.com update: Thomas has made 42 shots this year, with 26 coming at the rim. He has hit 8 of 25 2-point jumpers (32%) and 8 of 27 3-pointers.
No. 5 — Tre Harris, 6-5, freshman G
— Jan. 31 at KU: Did not play
He’s only played in seven Big 12 games for K-State, but he started the last one, in place of Marcus Foster, who often moves back and forth between inside and outside of Weber’s dog house.
Possibly K-State’s best 3-point shooter, Harris has knocked down 9 of 22 in conference play (40.9%).
He went scoreless in 18 minutes at BU, but has come through with a couple of explosive outings:
4-for-6 on 3-pointers vs. Texas, 12 points
2-for-3 on 3-pointers at TCU, 14 points
On the season, the freshman has connected on 48.7% of his 3-pointers — 19 for 39.
- — hoop-math.com nugget: Because he has only played in 18 games this season, he ranks ninth on K-State in shot attempts, but when he is on the floor he is — by far — most likely to fire away from deep. That’s where Harris has taken 77.4% of his shots.*
No. 2 — Marcus Foster, 6-3, sophomore G
— Jan. 31 at KU: 19 points, 7/18 FGs, 3/10 3s, 2/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 0 assists, 2 TOS, 1 steal in 35 minutes
Will Weber really bring Foster off the bench again? Or will he start the most dynamic player on the roster and ride him in hopes of a marquee win?
Foster played 29 minutes — second-most on the team — in the loss at Baylor, scoring 8 points on 3-for-11 shooting. He missed all 5 of his 3-pointers.
Playing in just 12 conference games and starting only 7, the at-times explosive shooting guard averages 12.8 points in the conference, but has hit just 36.6% of his shots in the league. He’s even worse from 3-point range, connecting on 19 of 68 (27.9%).
Foster has come off the bench in each of his last 3 appearances after being held out of 3 straight games. He had scored 11 or more points in 9 straight games before shooting just 4-for-17 combined in his last 2 appearances.
— hoop-math.com update: As athletic as he is, Foster only takes 20.8% of his shots at the rim. He has hit 30 of those 54 looks (55.6%). Most often, he prefers hoisting 3-pointers — 58.5% of his shots come from downtown.
No. 14 — Justin Edwards, 6-4, junior G
— Jan. 31 at KU: 0 points, 0/6 FGs, 0/1 3s, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 TO in 15 minutes
At times a starter, Edwards has come off the bench in 9 of K-State’s Big 12 games, and averages 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds, while making 40% of his shot attempts and hitting 13 of 35 3-pointers (37.1%).
His best recent performance came almost two weeks ago, at West Virginia. In 29 minutes off the bench, Edwards shot 5-for-7, hit both of his 3-pointers and scored 14 points.
— hoop-math.com update: Fourth on the team in FG attempts (160), Edwards has only hit 6 of 21 (28.6%) 2-point jumpers. He prefers getting to the rim: 38 for 78 (48.7%).
No. 41 — Stephen Hurt, 6-11, junior F
— Jan. 31 at KU: 6 points, 2/3 FGs, 2/2 3s, 2 rebounds, 2 TOs, 1 block in 10 minutes
You really have to take note of every big body an opponent can throw at Kansas, because the Jayhawks have had so many issues on the offensive glass and finishing against size.
Plus, when you consider Hurt caught KU bigs off guard in the first meeting by knocking down a pair of 3-pointers, he seems even more important to what K-State is trying to accomplish.
He only plays 12.1 minutes a game in the league, and averages 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds. And he has only made 37.5% of his shots. Hurt has taken 6 3-pointers in league games and he hit 3 of them.
— hoop-math.com nugget: Just 34.1% of his attempts come at the rim, but he makes 70% there. 52.3% of his shots have been 2-point jumpers, where he makes 30.4% — that number has fallen by nearly 7 percent in the past three-plus weeks.