The final score makes it look like Kansas State stomped Texas Tech without any trouble Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum, but the Wildcats needed big contributions from Thomas Gipson, Nino Williams and Angel Rodriguez to pull away from the struggling Red Raiders.
Before we look back on the 75-55 victory in another edition of Player Ratings, let’s first look at the race for a Big 12 championship, which is tighter than ever with three games remaining.
Kansas and K-State are tied for first at 12-3, and Oklahoma State is right behind them at 10-4.
The Jayhawks have the easiest remaining schedule, so they are the new favorites. Their remaining games are at home against West Virginia and Texas Tech, both of which they should easily win, and their only road game comes at Baylor, which has lost six of eight. After beating Oklahoma State and Iowa State on the road, it’s hard to see them losing again.
The Wildcats’ path to a conference championship is more difficult. They should be favored in their next two games, at Baylor and vs. TCU, but they will likely be underdogs in the season-finale at Oklahoma State. As long as K-State takes care of business against lesser teams like it has all season, its trip to Stillwater will have Big 12 championship implications.
The Cowboys are in the worst position. They need to win their four remaining games, which won’t be easy with a trip to Iowa State and a battle with K-State still to come, and hope Kansas stumbles. But if Oklahoma State runs the table and Kansas loses one of its final three games, the Cowboys will clinch at least a share of the conference title.
It’s possible all three teams could share the championship. The next two weeks should be fun to watch.
Now, onto the Player Ratings:
Thomas Gipson – 9.5: Gipson was simply dominant against Texas Tech. He made seven of nine shots, hit six of seven free throws and had 20 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes of action. He scored eight straight points for K-State when Texas Tech was threatening to pull an upset, and helped the Wildcat secure an important victory. The sophomore forward’s next challenge is to play as well and as hard as he did Monday on a consistent basis against different lineups, not just small front lines.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 6.3.
Nino Williams — 9: Based purely on the 15 minutes he was on the court, Williams deserved a 10. He came off the bench in the second half to go on an 11-2 run all by himself and grab seven rebounds in a pivotal stretch that swung the game K-State’s way. When Williams plays well, he can be a X-Factor for the Wildcats. He also scored 17 points in a key win over Oklahoma State. Too bad he was so quiet in the two months in between those games.
Last game: 4. Average: N/A.
Angel Rodriguez – 8: Rodriguez should be considered for the Big 12′s all-conference team. The sophomore point guard has been terrific throughout league play and once again delivered against Texas Tech. He had 16 points, seven assists and four steals.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.5.
Rodney McGruder – 7.5: How consistent is McGruder? His quiet games now consist of 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists. He might need to find his shooting touch for K-State to make a postseason run, but he always seems to do enough for the Wildcats to win.
Last game: 9. Average: 8.1.
Shane Southwell – 5.5: It would be fun to see Southwell and Williams play well on the same night. Southwell had six points and four assists on Monday. His challenge is do find a way to help K-State when three-pointers aren’t falling.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 7.2.
Will Spradling – 5: He played through the pain of a bruised sternum, but he didn’t play well. K-State hopes a few days of rest will allow him to make more of an impact at Baylor.
Last game: 6. Average: 6.4.
Omari Lawrence – 5: Lawrence had four points in 6 minutes, a typical game for the reserve guard.
Last game: 3. Average: N/A.
Adrian Diaz — 4: Diaz saw time with Henriquez unavailable. He scored three points in 5 minutes.
D.J. Johnson — 3: The freshman forward was held scoreless in 8 minutes of action, but he did grab two rebounds.
Last game: 4. Average: N/A.
Martavious Irving – 3: Irving scored 10 points in back-to-back-to-back games in the middle of conference play. He has scored a total of 10 points in the five games since.
Last game: 5. Average: 6.0.