Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas 86, Kansas State 60

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 86-60 loss at Kansas on Saturday in Lawrence:

1. Bruce Weber made too many substitutions in the first half.
K-State’s basketball coach made a critical error in the first half by subbing in four bench players when the game was close. Kansas led 15-12 with 11:28 remaining in the first half. K-State always seems to fall impossibly behind at Allen Fieldhouse, so this qualified as a good start. But the game started to get away from the Wildcats when they came out of a timeout with Marcus Foster, Omari Lawrence, Nino Williams, D.J. Johnson and Jevon Thomas on the floor. The lineup consisted of one starter, two freshmen and three backups. The move was puzzling, considering Foster was K-State’s only player in foul trouble at the time. Kansas took advantage by going on a 9-2 run until the next media timeout. It led 45-28 at halftime, and the game was over. Weber later admitted K-State lost control during that stretch. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened with a better lineup on the floor.

2. K-State’s defense was no match for Kansas in the first half.
Before halftime, Kansas scored 45 points while shooting 65.5 percent and racking up 14 assists without losing a turnover. Let those numbers sink in for a moment. K-State entered the weekend as the Big 12′s top statistical defense, allowing 58 points per game. In its last outing against TCU, it held the Horned Frogs to 47. If there’s one thing the Wildcats are good at, it’s disrupting other teams. But they couldn’t do anything to stop the Jayhawks in the first half Saturday. Georgetown ravaged K-State earlier this year, too, and the Wildcats responded with 10 straight wins. So maybe it was just one of those days. But if they want to play well against Oklahoma on Tuesday and bounce back from this loss, the process will have to start with defense.

3. K-State does not matchup well with Kansas, especially at Allen Fieldhouse.
And that’s not going to change until the Wildcats add some size. They will do exactly that during the offseason when Brandon Bolden becomes eligible following a transfer year and incoming forward Stephen Hurt joins the roster. So future games may be interesting. But Thomas Gipson can’t take on the Jayhawks’ front line all by himself the way he did Saturday. A few off plays gave KU a lead, then the crowd got involved and K-State was in a deep hole it couldn’t climb out of.

Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Thomas Gipson — 7.
Last game: 9. Average: 8.2.
K-State’s junior forward didn’t play as well as he did in recent games against Oklahoma State or TCU, but he was still effective. He scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds against the strongest frontcourt he has faced. He also gave K-State a shot early by avoiding foul trouble and scoring over Joel Embiid.

Nino Williams — 7.
Last game: 2. Average: 5.7.

He came off the bench to lead K-State with 12 points. Williams looked poised and confident in a difficult game. You can’t ask for much more from him.

Jevon Thomas — 6.5.
Last game: 5. Average: 6.2.

Thomas took some steps forward in Lawrence, scoring nine points and making his first free throws of the season in a tough environment. He even hit a three. He couldn’t impact the game much on defense, though. He also had more turnovers (2) than assists (1).

Shane Southwell — 5
Last game: 7. Average: 5.7.

Southwell needed to make threes, grab rebounds and play defense to give K-State a shot. He couldn’t come through, missing his only attempt from three and snaring one rebound.

Will Spradling — 5.
Last game: 4.5. Average: 5.3

Spradling made the two most difficult shots of the game, a driving reverse layup over multiple KU bigs and a floater over a 7-footer, but missed the other four (much easier) shots he attempted. How does that happen?

Marcus Foster — 4.
Last game: 8. Average: 6.8
Foster looked like a freshman for the first time. He connected on just three of 12 shots, he battled foul trouble and he didn’t play good defense. Weber explained that he was slowed by an ankle injury he suffered against TCU, but it’s unclear whether that held him back or Kansas bogged him down.

Wesley Iwundu — 4.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.2

The freshman had four points and two rebounds in 25 minutes. He has played poorly in back-to-back games.

Omari Lawrence — 3.
Last game: 5. Average: 3.8.

The way he shoots air balls from the outside, expect opposing defenses to back way off him in future games.

Nigel Johnson — 2.
Last game: 5. Average: 3.3.

He made a free throw in seven minutes of action.

D.J. Johnson — 2
Last game: 4. Average: 3.

He didn’t impact the game in his seven minutes of action.

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Twitter: @KellisRobinett