Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 85, Kansas 82

Kansas State defeated Kansas 85-82 on Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum. By now you’ve likely watched and possibly re-watched the game. Seeing as how we have a load of reading material from the Wildcats’ victory, including my game story, a sidebar from Rustin Dodd, a column from Bob Lutz and a column from Sam Mellinger, I am going to speed past my postgame thoughts and get right into the player ratings.

Though it is worth pointing out one more time how K-State won this game as a team. In Lawrence, the Jayhawks separated themselves from the Wildcats the moment Bruce Weber turned to his subs.

“They punked us,” Weber said.

This time, K-State won behind the strong play of D.J. Johnson, Nino Williams and Omari Lawrence. Kudos to them. Few saw that coming. K-State also played impressively on defense, especially on the perimeter. Kansas made three of 17 shots from beyond the arc.

Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
Will Spradling — 9.5.
Last game: 7. Average: 6.8.

Spradling lit up the stat sheet for 15 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals — all while playing 40-plus minutes. He was arguably the best player on the floor Monday. His recent improvement continues.

He also did this:

Marcus Foster — 9.
Last game: 10. Average: 7.2.
Foster led all scorers with 20 points and made a fool out of every KU defender that tried to guard him. It would have been interesting to see how well he could have played without suffering an ankle injury. He left the game in a walking boot, but K-State officials said it was merely a precaution. He should be ready to go against Baylor on Saturday.

Omari Lawrence — 8.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.1.

Few outside Lawrence’s immediate family could have seen this coming. The reserve guard had nine points, two steals and an assist in 22 minutes. He was a major reason why K-State won. This was his best game in a Wildcats uniform by far.

D.J. Johnson — 8.
Last game: 3.5. Average: 3.9.

Kansas ignored Johnson every time he ran the pick-and-roll, and, boy, did he make the Jayhawks pay. The reserve forward had nine points, four rebounds and two blocks. His recent improvement has been staggering. A few weeks back he earned a zero rating in this space. On Monday, he was playing alongside Thomas Gipson.

Thomas Gipson — 7.5.
Last game: 6. Average: 7.1.
Gipson quietly did a lot of nice things for the Wildcats, finishing with nine points and three rebounds. Staying on the floor for 31 minutes was a big positive.

Nino Williams — 7.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 5.9.

If only Williams could avoid fouls. The junior forward came off the bench to give K-State eight points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. But his production was limited, because he fouled out.

Wesley Iwundu — 6.
Last game: 8. Average: 6

Iwundu once again put up valuable stats, ending with six points, four assists and three rebounds. But he missed some important free throws and showed a lack of awareness driving to the basket late in regulation when he should have been trying to kill clock.

Nigel Johnson — 5.
Last game: 2. Average: N/A.

Weber said that Johnson has replaced Jevon Thomas in the rotation. And it’s easy to see why after he scored four points and had three assists against Kansas. Thomas has had a few bad practices, and Johnson offers more upside on offense.

“He just hasn’t played well,” Weber said of Thomas. “I just feel bad for him. The NCAA … I think it’s a crime they didn’t let him practice. He is so far behind on so many things he has lost a little bit of confidence. Nigel got his opportunity and played well.”

Shane Southwell — 4.5.
Last game: 4.5. Average: 5.9.

Southwell went scoreless in the first half. He had a slightly better second half, finishing with five points, four rebounds and three assists, but K-State needs more out of him. The senior forward has been simply awful the last four games, and he isn’t helping matters by trying to bounce the ball off defenders when he gets trapped. Said Weber: “If we can get Shane (Southwell) going that would be really nice. It would be nice to have everyone going.”

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