Before we get to the player ratings from last night’s Sunflower Showdown, which Kansas won 59-55 and lived up to the pregame hype, I would like to take a moment to compliment Wichita Eagle photographer Travis Heying for the above photo. What a great shot. It shows how physical things can get inside during a basketball game, and how easy it can be to overlook in real time.
I mean, Thomas Gipson has Jeff Withey in a chokehold. Don’t see that very often.
Anyway, K-State played well in a losing effort against Kansas. Had the Wildcats made a few more shots or attacked the rim more effectively they easily could have won. But they don’t have any time to dwell on the loss. Up next is a road trip to Iowa State, which is 13-4 and has won all its Big 12 games outside of Allen Fieldhouse.
Overcoming Hilton Magic is never easy. K-State will need to play well if it wants to keep pace in the conference race. Now, onto the player ratings:
Shane Southwell — 9.5: You couldn’t ask for more out of Southwell, even though the junior guard said he should have made an additional three three-pointers. He played one of his best games at K-State, scoring 19 points, grabbing seven rebounds and giving the Wildcats much-needed life from the outside. Southwell made five three-pointers, leading Bill Self to suggest he might be the most improved player in the Big 12.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.8.
Angel Rodriguez — 8: The sophomore point guard gave K-State an incredible boost in the first half, scoring 12 points and attacking the Jayhawks’ front line. If only he could have continued that play in the second half instead of being held scoreless. Still, he played a quality game. His good plays were up (eight assists and five rebounds) and his bad plays were down (two turnovers and one foul).
Last game: 7.5. Average: 7.1.
Rodney McGruder — 7.5: Other than a transition dunk near the end of the first half, McGruder was kept in check by KU guard Travis Releford early. He had a much better second half, finishing with 13 points and three rebounds, but he never got the ball in his favorite mid-range spots. Most of his shots came from the outside. He’s not totally to blame for that. Kansas focused on stopping him and left other K-State shooters open. The Wildcats simply didn’t connect on enough shots to take the pressure off him.
Last game: 9. Average: 8.8.
Jordan Henriquez — 6: Henriquez did an OK job defending Withey and finished with five rebounds, four points and three blocks.
Last game: 5.5. Average: 6.8.
Thomas Gipson — 5: Gipson did some nice things, including finishing an and-one layup against Jeff Withey, and contributing five points and four rebounds, but he didn’t take advantage of all his opportunities. When he finds himself wide-open under the basket, he needs to go straight up for an uncontested shot instead of pump-faking until defenders arrive. He also needs to cut down on fouls, though there wasn’t much he could do about that against Kansas. He was the victim of some poor officiating.
Last game: 6. Average: 5.6.
Martavious Irving — 4: Irving played adequate defense, but didn’t do much on offense. He finished with two points.
Last game: 6. Average: 6.2.
Will Spradling — 3: Spradling was a non-factor. He took five shots, all from three-point range, and missed all five. When he is making shots the way he did against Oklahoma and Florida, K-State can play with anyone. When he is held scoreless, it puts a lot of pressure on his teammates.
Last game: 8. Average: 5.9.
Nino Williams — 3: He didn’t have much of a chance to impact the game with Southwell playing so well, but Williams didn’t take advantage of his time on the floor.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.7.
Adrian Diaz — 3: The backup forward didn’t make any mistakes against Kansas, but he didn’t contribute anything against a small lineup when he was in the game, either.
Last game: 6. Average: 3.9.
Omari Lawrence — N/A: Helped K-State’s top players take a breather by playing two mistake-free minutes.
Last game: N/A. Average: N/A.