Player Ratings: Will Spradling regains shooting touch, but K-State big men come up short in 73-67 loss at Iowa State

Struggling to grab rebounds and failing to play defense is a combination that rarely leads to victory.

K-State learned that lesson during a 73-67 loss to Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum. Even with the Wildcats making 50.9 percent of their shots and leading at halftime, they couldn’t overcome getting out-rebounded and allowing 18 second-chance points.

The game was close from the get-go, but Iowa State was able to use its advantage inside and come up with key plays when it mattered most.

No. 11 K-State has now lost back-to-back games for the first time under Bruce Weber. It will likely drop to the 20-25 range when the national polls are released on Monday. More importantly, it dropped into a tie for third in the Big 12 standings at 4-2. Kansas is leading the way at 6-0, Baylor is 5-1 and Oklahoma, Iowa State and K-State are all in third.

The next week will be important. K-State will be favored against struggling Texas on Wednesday, but face a difficult rematch game at Oklahoma on Saturday. For now, though, let’s look back with another edition of player ratings.

Will Spradling – 8.5: Going scoreless against Kansas didn’t sit well with Spradling, and, to his credit, he did something about the poor outing. The junior guard spent the majority of the last few days in K-State’s practice facility improving his shot. He put up too many jumpers to count, and that work paid off with a 15-point effort at Iowa State. He made four three-pointers, including one he converted into a four-point play following a foul, and also hit a nifty reverse layup in the early moments. Spradling has been up-and-down this season, but he hopes a game like this can serve as a first step toward consistency.
Last game: 3. Average: 6.3.

Rodney McGruder – 7: He was strong in transition, slipping away behind the defense for uncontested dunks and fighting past defenders for layups, but only OK in most other areas. He finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, which is solid. But he also had four turnovers and went 0 for 3 from the free-throw line. He is drawing serious defensive attention right now. His challenge in upcoming games will be figuring out how to score 20+ points against it.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 8.5.

Angel Rodriguez – 7: Rodriguez had, perhaps, the most interesting performance of any K-State player. He was spectacular at times on offense, scoring 11 points, sending out six assists and driving to the hoop for impressive baskets. But he was a liability on defense and committed four fouls. Bruce Weber had to get creative with him late and sub him in for offense and out for defense. Still, he did more good than bad.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.1.

Shane Southwell – 7: The junior guard was helpful on offense, scoring 11 points and dishing out two assists, but he was unable to prevent Iowa State’s forwards from grabbing key rebounds.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 7.7.

Martavious Irving – 6.5: Irving probably deserved to play more than he did. K-State struggled to stop Iowa State in the second half, and Irving is one of the Wildcats’ top defenders. Still, he had five points, three assists and no turnovers in 23 minutes.
Last game: 4. Average: 6.3.

Nino Williams – 6: Williams had been a non-factor in recent games, but that wasn’t the case here. He came off the bench to score four points and grab four rebounds. It was an OK effort, but he helps K-State most on offensive rebounds and he didn’t have any of those.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.9.

D.J. Johnson – 6: The seldom-used freshman forward came off the bench and exceeded expectations. He had four points, two rebounds and a block in 20 minutes. His quickness and athleticism can be useful inside if he continues playing well.
Last game: N/A. Average: N/A.

Jordan Henriquez – 5: He had a nice alley-oop dunk and two rebounds in the first half, but spent the rest of the game on the bench. His role seems to be diminishing by the game. That needs to change if K-State wants to reach its full potential. The Wildcats are significantly better when Henriquez is playing well inside.
Last game: 6. Average: 6.5.

Thomas Gipson – 4.5: It’s easy to see why Gipson only got 9 minutes of action. He couldn’t convert on a perfect pass from Rodriguez in the first half and failed to grab a rebound. Weber criticized Gipson’s play afterward.
Last game: 5. Average: 5.4.