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Getting reacquainted with Kansas State

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber directs his defense during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber directs his defense during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Since the last time Kansas University's men's basketball team faced in-state rival Kansas State — an easy home victory for the Jayhawks — Bruce Weber's Wildcats have gone 4-3.

Though K-State (16-7 overall, 6-4 Big 12) dropped all three of its road games in that stretch — at Texas, Iowa State and West Virginia — things went much better at Bramlage Coliseum, site of tonight's Sunflower Showdown with No. 7 Kansas (18-5, 9-1). The Wildcats beat Oklahoma, WVU Texas Tech and Texas at home.

Tied for 4th place in the Big 12 standings with ISU, K-State just dismantled the league's second-place team, Texas, 74-57, at "The Octagon of Doom" on Saturday.

Check out the highlights from ESPN:


Currently on a 12-game home winning streak, the Wildcats have thrived on their home floor with three wins over top 25 teams this season. Going back even farther, they've defeated eight of their last 11 ranked opponents at Bramlage.

In Big 12 play, Weber's Wildcats lead the conference in scoring defense (67.0). They're second in field goal percentage (45.9%, behind KU's 51.7%), field goal percentage defense (40.1%, behind KU's 40%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.26, behind ISU's 1.6). K-State is third in three-point field goal percentage defense (33.3%) and assists (15.1)

For a group that is solid defensively, the Wildcats don't create many turnovers, though. They're 5.0 steals a game average is dead last in the Big 12.

K-State has scored 70 or more points in 10 of the last 14 games, including six times in Big 12 play. But, obviously, that didn't happen on Jan. 11 in Lawrence, when KU handled the Wildcats, 86-60.

There also is the matter of K-State's perpetual struggles with the Jayhawks. KU has won six in a row in the series, 13 of the last 14 and 48 of the last 51. Kansas is 187-91 all-time against K-State.

The Wildcats' last victory over Kansas came on Valentine's Day in 2011, 84-68, in Manhattan.

Let's get reacquainted with K-State's top players, whom KU will have to once again shut down to prevent a rare Sunflower Showdown win fro the 'Cats.

Marcus Foster, No. 2

6-2, 200, fr. guard

Kansas State guard Marcus Foster (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas State guard Marcus Foster (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 7 points, 3-12 FGs, 0-3 3s, 1-4 FTs, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers, 3 fouls in 23 minutes.

Crazily enough, only one Wildcat scored double digits against Texas this past weekend. Well, maybe it's not so crazy, considering Foster had 34 by himself.

The dangerously explosive young guard only missed 3 of his 16 shots and nailed 5 of 8 three-pointers on his career afternoon.

For some perspective, he became the fifth K-State freshmen ever to score 30 or more points and the first since Michael Beasley.

Foster's effort marked the first 30-point game for a Wildcat since Jacob Pullen went for 38 in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

The freshman struggled in his first visit to Allen Fieldhouse, going 3-for-12. Perhaps the road environment overwhelmed him a bit. Surely KU's defense had a lot to do with his seven-point performance, too. But expect Foster eager to produce up to his standards — 14.7 points — or better in the rematch.

His 50 three-pointers and 134 attempts from deep lead the team

Thomas Gipson, No. 42

6-7, 265, jr. forward

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 10 points, 5-7 FGs, 4 rebounds, 2 turnovers.

The most productive member of the frontcourt, the junior leads K-State in field goal percentage (58%) and rebounding (6.5 boards a game).

Gipson scores 11.7 points a game and has led the Wildcats in scoring seven times this season.

He scored 10 points against Kansas in Lawrence, earning the distinction of being the only starter to reach double digits.

Defensively, Gipson only averages 0.5 blocks a game but he leads K-State with 12 charges drawn.

Shane Southwell, No. 1

6-7, 215, sr. gaurd

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 9 points, 4-8 FGs, 0-1 3s, 1-1 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover.

The third scoring option for K-State, the senior guard finds other ways to make an impact, too. Southwell averages 3.1 assists a game and 1.1 blocks.

Throw in 4.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 10.7 points and you've got a nice complimentary piece for a defensive-minded team.

Southwell will take three-pointers (96 attempts this season), but he has only made 28.1% from behind the arc.

Will Spradling, No. 55

6-2, 185, sr. guard

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 6 points, 2-6 FGs, 0-4 3s, 2-2 FTs, 2 rebounds.

He's been playing regular minutes for K-State since he was a freshman (95 career starts), so you know the drill. The guy is primarily a three-point shooter — 73% of the 136 shots Spradling has taken this season have come behind the three-point line.

Of the 99 threes the senior shooter has hoisted, 36 have dropped through the net (36.4%).

Spradling averages 7.8 points a game. He passes out 2.6 assists and has only turned the ball over 15 times in 665 minutes this season.

In his last five games, he's averaging 11.0 points an outing.

Wesley Iwundu, No. 25

6-7, 195, fr. forward

Kansas guard Perry Ellis and Kansas State guard Wesley Iwundu battle for a rebound during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Perry Ellis and Kansas State guard Wesley Iwundu battle for a rebound during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 4 points, 1-2 FGs, 2-2 FTs, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover, 1 block.

An accurate shooter at 49.1% in his freshman season, Iwundu averages 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Because he spends more time battling in the paint than any other Wildcat, the 6-7 forward leads the team with 81 free throw attempts. But he only shoots 65.4% at the foul line.

Against Texas, Iwundu scored eight points and had season-highs with eight assists and three steals.

K-State bench

Jevon Thomas, No. 5

6-0, 180, fr. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins battles for a rebound with Kansas State guard Jevon Thomas during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins battles for a rebound with Kansas State guard Jevon Thomas during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 9 points, 2-7 FGs, 1-1 3s, 4-6 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assists, 2 turnovers in 28 minutes.

The freshman guard has shown real potential but he didn't become eligible until the 12th game of the season, so he has had his ups and downs while adjusting to life in the Big 12.

Thomas plays more minutes (21.3) than any other member of K-State's bench. However, those numbers are on a downward trend, with Weber playing him just 11 minutes against West Virginia and three against Texas.

He is closer to a true point guard than anyone else on the roster, and dishes 3.3 assists a game to go with 3.5 points.

Nino Williams, No. 11

6-5, 220, jr. forward

Kansas teammates Jamari Traylor, center, and Tarik Black defend against a shot by Kansas State forward Nino Williams during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Jamari Traylor, center, and Tarik Black defend against a shot by Kansas State forward Nino Williams during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 11 vs. KU: 12 points, 4-5 FGs, 4-4 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 turnover in 17 minutes.

The backup forward has carved a niche for himself on the second unit, averaging 6.9 points in his last 14 games (5.6 on the season).

With most of his shots coming inside, Williams shoots 51.7% from the floor. His 76% free-throw shooting leads the team — he's even better than Spradling (71.7%).

Williams has scored double digits four times in 10 Big 12 games, and led the Wildcats' struggling offense at KU, with 12 points.

Almost half of his 3.0 rebounds a game come on the offensive end of the floor.

Reply 1 comment from Mark Anderson Alex Farris

K-State streaking entering Sunflower Showdown

In the past few weeks, Bruce Weber’s Kansas State Wildcats (12-3 overall, 2-0 Big 12) emerged as one of college basketball’s surprise teams of the season.

The guys in purple that reside an easy drive west on I-70 from Lawrence didn’t start off 2013-14 in great form, dropping a game to Charlotte and getting blown out by Georgetown in November at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. But the Wildcats have won 10 straight since then, with victories over Gonzaga (currently ranked No. 22) and Oklahoma State (which fell from No. 6 to No. 11 following its 74-71 loss at Manhattan last weekend).

The Wildcats’ most recent victim was TCU, which fell, 65-47, at home to K-State. Below is a dramatic interpretation of what transpired, courtesy of the K-State Sports YouTube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOvQcmXJ5Og

Far more awe-inspiring, though, is how K-State shocked most Big 12 observers by beating Oklahoma State on Jan. 7. The ‘Cats are winning with their defense. Their 58 points allowed per game leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 9, nationally. What’s more, K-State boasts a 25.1-percent three-point field goal percentage defense (No. 5 in the nation) and has held 13 of its last 14 opponents below their scoring average.

This group of Wildcats is stingy, particularly on the perimeter, where each guard stays glued to his man and rarely lets a shot get off uncontested. Though Oklahoma State put up 71 points at Manhattan, the Cowboys went 21-for-52 from the floor (40.8 percent), thanks in large part to a woeful night from deep: 3-for-14 (21.4 percent).

Meet the players who want nothing more in the world today than to come to Allen Fieldhouse and knock off No. 18 Kansas (10-4, 1-0) — the Jayhawks have won 47 of the last 50 meetings in the Sunflower Showdown.

Marcus Foster, No. 2

6-2, 200, fr. guard

Kansas State guard Marcus Foster (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas State guard Marcus Foster (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma State at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Just to give you an idea of how well the freshman has played since arriving Manhattan, some observers in the Little Apple are comparing him to Mitch Richmond.

Yes, that Mitch Richmond.

Mitch Richmond backs in against Milt Newton during the 1987-88 season.

Mitch Richmond backs in against Milt Newton during the 1987-88 season.

Foster is averaging 14.1 points and 3.9 rebounds, and has hit 33 of 90 three-pointers (36.7 percent) to date. The dynamic young guard reached double-digit scoring in 10 straight games, including a team-best 17 against Okie State.

And, just in case you missed it, Foster posterized David Stockton of Gonzaga. Prepare to be amazed. The highlights themselves show off Foster’s explosive skill set, but the production level on this clip is off the charts, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1l-Cq6AZfM

Thomas Gipson, No. 42

6-7, 265, jr. forward

Kansas center Jeff Withey competes for a rebound with Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas center Jeff Withey competes for a rebound with Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Gipson led K-State with 19 points against TCU, and the team’s most reliable big is averaging 13.3 points on 61.6-percent shooting during his team’s 10-game win streak.

The third-year player missed the first two games of the season with an injury, but has regained his form of late, with a double-double (10 points, 11 boards) against Oklahoma State, and has made 60 of his 101 field-goal tries this year (59.4 percent).

Shane Southwell, No. 1

6-7, 215, sr. gaurd

Kansas State guard Shane Southwell looks to throw a pass over the Kansas defense during the second half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.

Kansas State guard Shane Southwell looks to throw a pass over the Kansas defense during the second half on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. by Nick Krug

The K-State senior is one of the players Weber can rely upon to do a little bit of everything. Southwell has led the team in assists six times this season and been the top scorer on three occasions, while averaging 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists on the year, and has 16 steals to his name.

Despite his experience and versatility, Southwell doesn’t always take smart shots, and it shows in his percentages: he is 59-for-148 from the floor (39.9 percent) and 17-for-59 from downtown (28.8 percent).

Wesley Iwundu, No. 25

6-7, 195, fr. forward

Kansas State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart (33) at the end of an NCAA college basketball game at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State 71-74. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas State forward Wesley Iwundu (25) and Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart (33) at the end of an NCAA college basketball game at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. Kansas State defeated Oklahoma State 71-74. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

In his college debut this season, the swingman from Houston posted a double-double, with 14 points and 10 boards off the bench against Northern Colorado.

Iwundu, now a starter, averages 7.0 points and 4.4 rebounds on the year, and has got to the foul line more than any of his teammates, making just 44 of 64 free-throw attempts (68.8 percent).

Will Spradling, No. 55

6-2, 185, sr. guard

Kansas guard Travis Releford competes for a loose ball with Kansas State guard Will Spradling during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas guard Travis Releford competes for a loose ball with Kansas State guard Will Spradling during the first half on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum. by Nick Krug

Now in his final season in a K-State uniform, Spradling has started 87 times in his career. While he only averages 6.9 points and 2.5 assists this year, Weber clearly trusts him — the heady guard averages 28.9 minutes a game. Spradling ranks in the top 10 all-time at K-State with 154 career three-pointers and 273 assists.

Still, he hasn’t got going this season, making just 30 of 90 shots (33.3 percent) and 21 of 65 from deep (32.3 percent). Even his free-throw percentage (63.9) isn’t great.

K-State bench

Jevon Thomas, No. 5

6-0, 180, fr. guard

Thomas officially joined the team on Dec. 21, after sitting out the fall semester. In his four games, he has 17 assists and just four turnovers.

His eight points and five assists helped K-State knock off Oklahoma State last weekend, and Thomas proved to be just the play-maker the Wildcats had lacked. He can thread the needle on passes inside to get Gipson and other frontcourt players easy baskets.

Nino Williams, No. 11

6-5, 220, jr. forward

A sub averaging just 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds might not seem like much of a threat, but Williams has averaged 6.8 points in his last six games and made 14 of his 25 shots in that stretch.

Strong, though undersized for a forward who mixes it up inside, his biggest night came in K-State’s marquee win over Oklahoma State. Williams hit three of his four free throws in the final 13 seconds to help seal the win and finished with a season-high 15 points.

Bonus clip

No matter what happens today against Kansas, or for the rest of their lives for that matter, the Wildcats can always say they did this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyNwcblPW0I

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