Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 78, West Virginia 56

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Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 78-56 victory against West Virginia on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. K-State made West Virginia look bad.
West Virginia entered Saturday’s game with one double-digit loss on its resume — an 80-69 setback against Texas. Every other game it had played was a victory or a close loss. It even pushed Wisconsin and Gonzaga. But the Mountaineers were no match for the Wildcats. K-State handed them (by far) their worst loss of the season. This one was over by halftime. Reasonable people can disagree on how much West Virginia contributed to the lopsided game. It looked bad by itself. But K-State definitely made it look worse. Outside of Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, the Mountaineers couldn’t get anything going. And Staten lost seven turnovers. That’s an ugly number, considering West Virginia had five assists as a team. K-State piled up 22 assists, played strong defense and got balanced scoring from Thomas Gipson, Shane Southwell and Marcus Foster. That led to a rare easy conference victory.

2. Shane Southwell played his best game of the season.
You could tell that was coming right from the start, when he sent out laser passes to teammates and hit three-pointers. Southwell finished with 20 points, six rebounds, four rebounds and a block … In 24 minutes of court time. Talk about efficiency. He made six of 10 shots, he threw down a dunk and was involved in all phases. The best thing he did was pass the ball. It felt like he had 10 assists. Southwell occasionally takes a backseat to Foster and Gipson, but this was a good reminder that Southwell can be the lead dog, too.

3. Look at the Big 12 standings and you will find K-State all alone in second.
That is more of a statement of fact than a thought, but it’s worth pointing out. Five games into the Big 12 season, and K-State is the only team with one loss. Kansas is undefeated. Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Texas all have two losses. Everyone else has three losses or more. For the second straight season, the Wildcats will be a factor in the conference race. How much of a factor depends on how they handle upcoming road games. So far, K-State has benefited from playing three home games and facing TCU (the league’s worst team) on the road. Its only difficult road test came at Kansas, and things got out of hand. Was that a sign of bad things to come in future road games? Or will the Wildcats learn from that experience? They travel to Texas and Iowa State this week. Both will be difficult games. How they handle tough road environments will decide where they finish in the conference standings.

Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Shane Southwell — 9.5.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 7.

Southwell did a little bit of everything. It would have been interesting to see what he could have accomplished with 34 minutes instead of 24.

Thomas Gipson — 9.
Last game: 4. Average: 7.5.
Gipson was still angry about spending most of the Oklahoma game on the bench with foul trouble. That much was obvious when he kept fighting for points until the bitter end of this game. He had 20 points, six rebounds and three assists. His most impressive stat: making nine of 11 shots.

Jevon Thomas — 8.5.
Last game: 4.5. Average: 6.4.

For someone who only scored two points, Thomas made a major impact on this game. The freshman point guard had eight assists and no turnovers, while forcing Staten into seven turnovers. He passed the ball with precision and played impressive defense.

Marcus Foster — 7.5.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 7.1.
Foster scored 15 points in 13 minutes. Bruce Weber then gave the banged up freshman some much-deserved rest.

Nino Williams –6.
Last game: 8. Average: 6.2.

He had five points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of court time. Williams continues to be a factor off the bench.

Wesley Iwundu — 6.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 5.2

Iwundu made one three-pointer in his first 16 games. He has made four in his last two. Iwundu drained another three on Saturday and made both the shots he attempted. He only grabbed two rebounds, though.

Will Spradling — 6.
Last game: 7. Average: 5.7

Spradling made a game-high three steals. That gave K-State a nice boost, while he scored five points and grabbed three rebounds.

Nigel Johnson — 5.
Last game: 2. Average: 3.5.

Johnson came off the bench and scored five points in nine minutes.

Omari Lawrence — 3.
Last game: 3. Average: 3.5.

Lawrence didn’t score in 12 minutes, but he did have two assists.

D.J. Johnson — 0.
Last game: 3. Average: 2.4.

Johnson earned the lowest rating possible (and the first bagel in this blog’s history) by fouling out in five minutes and losing two turnovers.


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