Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 65-47 victory over TCU on Tuesday in Fort Worth:
1. Thomas Gipson is starting to look like the player who makes Kansas State go.
Bruce Weber told an interesting story following K-State’s 18-point win over TCU. He said K-State coaches approached Gipson near the end of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, when the Wildcats were playing their worst, and asked Gipson to become the team’s vocal leader. It didn’t have one, and they thought he was the man for the job. Almost instantly, he embraced the role. That much was evident Tuesday, when he called out teammates in huddles for a slow start and encouraged teammates on the court. At one point, he noticed Omari Lawrence hanging his head after a missed defensive assignment and repeated the phrase “It’s over” to him until he regained his confidence. Lawrence went on to score four points and grab two rebounds. Gipson also scored 19 points and snared eight rebounds on Tuesday. Afterward, TCU coach Trent Johnson described K-State as “mentally strong.” When asked about that comment, Weber gave credit to Gipson. “His leadership has been so important,” Weber said. “He has been rock solid.”
2. K-State won by 18 points while committing 18 turnovers. That won’t happen again.
This was an ugly game, and the Wildcats did themselves no favors by losing turnovers at a high clip. Gipson committed five turnovers, Marcus Foster lost four turnovers and Wesley Iwundu and Jevon Thomas both lost two turnovers. A majority of those turnovers came on difficult passes into packed zone coverage, but travels and foolish passes also hurt. K-State picked a good day to be careless with the ball, but it won’t win many more games with 18 turnovers. Johnson was furious his team couldn’t take advantage of all those extra possessions. Most Big 12 teams will.
3. K-State destroyed TCU on the glass.
The Wildcats grabbed 37 rebounds while holding the Horned Frogs to 21 rebounds. That was the difference in the game. Gipson grabbed eight rebounds, Shane Southwell snared six rebounds and Wesley Iwundu, D.J. Johnson and Foster all grabbed four. TCU, despite its size advantage, was helpless against K-State. The Wildcats showed a great deal of desire on the glass. It helped them win their first road game of the season.
Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Thomas Gipson — 9.
Last game: 8. Average: 8.5
The best thing about Gipson’s recent play: He is making free throws. Defenders can’t get overly aggressive with him, because he can hurt opponents down low and at the line.
Marcus Foster — 8.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 8.25
He had to leave the game for a brief moment in the first half with a tweaked ankle, but he returned to the game and scored 16 points.
Shane Southwell — 7
Last game: 5. Average: 6.
Southwell had an all-around good game, finishing with seven points, six rebounds and four assists. Foul trouble continues to hold him back, though.
Jevon Thomas — 5.
Last game: 7. Average: 6.
Thomas seemed to regress in this game, and he still isn’t coming close on free throws. But he did some nice things.
Omari Lawrence — 5.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.
He only made two shots, but they were both important. He also grabbed two rebounds.
Nigel Johnson — 5.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.
He came off the bench and made shots when K-State needed him to, finishing with four points and three rebounds.
Will Spradling — 4.5.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 5.5
At one point, Spradling called for the ball and immediately launched a corner three. He shot an air ball. It was that kind of night for the senior guard.
D.J. Johnson — 4
Last game: 3. Average: 3.5.
He helped K-State inside with two points and four rebounds.
Wesley Iwundu — 3.
Last game: 6. Average: 4.5
Perhaps the pressure of playing in his home state got to him. He looked jittery and made lots of mistakes.
Nino Williams — 2.
Last game: 8. Average: 5.
He didn’t have a single positive stat in six minutes.
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