Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 80-73 victory over Iowa State on Saturday:
1. Iowa State and Kansas State do not like each other.
A few years ago, Kansas State players went out of their way to let the public know they detested Missouri. They didn’t like the way the Tigers played or acted. So K-State made beating them a high priority. I’m not sure if their dislike for Iowa State has reached those levels, but it could be close. K-State and Iowa State played one of the most physical games I’ve seen in a long time. Their were hard plays, harder fouls, taunting and Marcus Foster took a shoe to the face. Melvin Ejim looked like he wanted to fight during a few dead balls, and Shane Southwell clapped in Ejim’s face when he was hit with a technical foul in the second half. K-State was the tougher, and more composed, team on Saturday. That’s a big reason why it won. But if these teams meet again in Kansas City, things could get even more physical.
2. Shane Southwell regained his old form. Sort of.
Shane Southwell scored a team-high 13 points against Iowa State. That’s a huge step forward for the senior guard, no matter how you look at it. He hit four three-pointers and scored more points than he has in a month. He was also on the court for 30 minutes. Those are all positives. But he also missed his last eight shots, and he continued to make poor decisions in transition. This was a step in the right direction. But he could have done more.
3. D.J. Johnson may be the most improved player in the Big 12.
Seriously, I doubt any player has improved more since the start of conference play. Johnson was a liability early. Now he is an important bench player who is making defenses look silly for ignoring him. On Saturday, he had 12 points and six rebounds. That production came on five shots (he made all five) in 16 minutes. He also only committed one foul. K-State’s bench outscored Iowa State’s bench 38-2. Johnson was a huge reason why.
Player Ratings (Big 12 games only):
D.J. Johnson — 9.
Last game: 4. Average: 4.5.
Maybe it’s unfair to give the top rating to a player who only saw 16 minutes, but Johnson did everything. He made all five of his shots, he scored 12 points, he grabbed six rebounds and he gave K-State a big boost.
Will Spradling – 8.
Last game: 7. Average: 6.7.
The senior guard hit the most important shot of the game (a three that helped K-State pull away in the final moments) and didn’t make any mistakes on his way to eight points.
Thomas Gipson — 7.5.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 7.2.
Gipson had 12 points and eight rebounds on a night when Iowa State seemed to dominate inside the paint.
Shane Southwell — 7.
Last game: 1. Average: 5.6.
He made his first four shots — all threes — and helped K-State take a lead in the first half. But he missed his final eight shots.
Marcus Foster – 7.
Last game: 8.5. Average: 7.3.
This was not one of Foster’s best games. Heck, he only played 21 minutes. But give the freshman guard props for keeping his cool after DeAndre Kane stepped on his face in the second half. The crowd wanted the officials to give Kane a flagrant foul, and Foster likely did, too. But when no penalty was issued, Kane and Foster bumped fists. Then Foster hit a three on the next possession. He kept his cool, and helped K-State win.
Wesley Iwundu — 6.5.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 5.3.
Bruce Weber made fun of Iwundu for once again trying to score instead of burning clock with a late lead. This time, the freshman forward tried to complete a behind-the-back pass that ended up in Iowa State’s hands. The criticism was deserved. Still, if you take that mistake away Iwundu had a decent game, finishing with 11 points and five rebounds.
Nigel Johnson — 6.5.
Last game: 6. Average: N/A.
He had seven points, three assists and no turnovers in 18 minutes. That might be his best stat line of the season.
Jevon Thomas — 6.
Last game: 2.5. Average: N/A.
He made a layup. He converted two free throws. A nice step forward for the freshman guard.
Omari Lawrence — 3.
Last game: 3. Average: 4.3.
Lawrence had two points in 15 minutes.
Nino Williams – 1.
Last game: 6.5. Average: 6.
Williams had made a strong case to be a permanent member of K-State’s starting lineup. But going scoreless in 13 minutes against Iowa State was not a good look for the junior forward.
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