Kansas State beat Oklahoma with defense last month. Toughness could decide rematch

RyanSpangler
Ask Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler what it will take for the Sooners to beat Kansas State on Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center, and he doesn’t hesitate with his answer.

“We can’t let them out-physical us,” Spangler said. “We have to be the tougher team.”

That wasn’t the case when K-State defeated Oklahoma 72-66 last month at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats were clearly the tougher team, particularly on defense.

The Sooners sport one of the nation’s top offenses. They average 83 points, with all five of their starters averaging double-figures. But they couldn’t get anything going in Manhattan, outside of Spangler, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Shane Southwell and Nino Williams held Cameron Clark to two points and Oklahoma made 33 percent of its shots.

“They do as good a job as anyone defensively,” OU coach Lon Kruger said. “It’s hard to simulate, because they are so good at it. But you know what you are getting. They just line up and guard you like crazy. Executing against it is difficult.”
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K-State Q&A: Looking ahead to important road games, looking back on the Baylor loss, plus NCAA Tournament and Justin Edwards

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another K-State Q&A. Apologies for taking last week off, but it was 86 degrees in Texas leading up to the Baylor game. I chose to spend every second I could away from the computer.

Anyway, there’s a big week of basketball ahead. The Wildcats play at Oklahoma and Texas Tech and then return home to take on Iowa State. All three games could be considered toss-ups. They will certainly impact the seed K-State earns in the NCAA Tournament.

Let’s go ahead and jump into your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.


1. The expectation has to be 0-2, given K-State’s recent history. Though it has often looked dominant at home (winning 14 straight) it has played poorly on the road (losing every away game other than at bottom-feeder TCU). But the majority of its road losses have been close, so it’s also reasonable to assume K-State will break through and win a road game at some point. Oklahoma is 11-3 at home. Texas Tech is 10-5 at home. K-State could win in both venues, but both games will be difficult. Too difficult to expect victories given that K-State has lost five straight on the road.
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Shane Southwell slumps, Will Spradling soars

ShaneSouthwellISU
Will Spradling and Shane Southwell are heading in opposite directions.

Spradling is making shots and playing his best basketball in a Kansas State uniform after a mediocre (at best) start to the season. Southwell is committing fouls, bricking shots and losing turnovers like a freshman after a promising start to the year.

They have effectively switched places.

Check out the stats.

Will Spradling (first 18 games): 6.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists.
Shane Southwell (first 20 games): 11.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.15 assists.

Will Spradling (last six games): 11.67 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists.
Shane Southwell (last four games): 4 points, 3.75 rebounds, 2.75 assists.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 66, Texas Tech 58

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 66-58 victory over Texas Tech on Tuesday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. This might be the worst K-State can play while winning a conference game.
Marcus Foster scored two points. Shane Southwell made one shot. Thomas Gipson was on the floor for 11 minutes. Everything about those statistics screams loss, but the Wildcats found a way to beat Texas Tech without significant contributions from their main three scorers. Will Spradling, Wesley Iwundu and a surprisingly strong bench effort saved the day for K-State. In some ways that is a good sign. The Wildcats have enough depth to win when their starters aren’t at their best. It is also a negative sign. How many other teams are getting this little from their best players in late January? Gipson has posted back-to-back poor games. Southwell hasn’t done anything special since the West Virginia game. And Foster has been all over the map lately. K-State needs consistency from all three moving forward. It had enough depth to hold off Texas Tech at home, but it will need more than that to win more difficult games.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Iowa State 81, Kansas State 75

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 81-75 loss at Iowa State on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum:

1. The Wildcats need to handle double-teams better on both ends of the court.
Thomas Gipson had an unusually quiet day, scoring four points and grabbing seven rebounds in 28 minutes. His struggles were tied directly to the way he handled double-teams. Iowa State players descended on him every time he touched the ball down low, and he didn’t react fast enough to the extra pressure. He missed five of seven shots, and often held onto the ball too long when teammates were open. Gipson is used to double-teams, but he struggled against them at Iowa State. The Wildcats also failed to effectively double-team Iowa State forwards on defense. Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim faced two, and sometimes three, K-State defenders in the paint. Yet, they combined for 38 points and 13 rebounds.
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Postgame Thoughts and Player Ratings: Kansas State 74, Oklahoma State 71

MarcusSmart
Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 74-71 victory against Oklahoma State on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum:

1. This is the type of win that has lasting implications.
Before Saturday, K-State was still fighting for respect in some circles. Even after a perfect December, it was unranked and left out of most NCAA Tournament projections. That is about to change. The Wildcats will almost certainly break into the national polls on Monday. And who could predict them to miss the NCAA Tournament at this exact moment? Their RPI is down to No. 53 after hovering in the high 80s, and they own victories over four quality opponents. K-State is also back in the mix to defend its Big 12 title. A year ago, it defeated Oklahoma State in its conference opener and rode that momentum to a memorable season. The Big 12 is much stronger this year, so there is no guarantee it will happen again. But a win over Oklahoma State puts it in the discussion.
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Madness in Manhattan was a success, but will it be back next year?


Madness in Manhattan ran longer than expected last night, so I had to file my story from the event before it ended to meet our print deadline.

Here a few more notes worth passing along.

– Overall, Madness in Manhattan was a success. An estimated crowd of 5,500 turned out for the basketball kickoff party, and fans lined up in long lines before the doors opened at Bramlage Coliseum to get the best seats.

K-State has held October basketball celebrations sporadically in the past. If the dates line up and the Wildcats can have a basketball night on Friday followed by a home football game on Saturday, they consider it. If not, they don’t worry about it.

This was the first Madness in Manhattan of the Bruce Weber era. Does he want to turn it into a yearly event?

“It’s a hard thing,” Weber said. “You obviously don’t make any money from it. It’s more of a fan-friendly thing. The players like it. It’s good for recruiting. We will see. If they want to keep doing it and they are going to be creative, it’s all right.”
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Football Friday: Mid-season awards, healthy receivers, a starting 5 and Halloween advice

It’s time for another Football Friday. Who else is excited?

I thought about handing out some mid-season awards as a build-up to the questions this week, but then someone sent along an e-mail asking for a mid-season MVP. So, no intro needed. Let’s get to the questions.


That’s a tough one. It’s hard to name a MVP with K-State off to a 2-4 start, quarterbacks coming in and out and key players suffering injuries. A case could be made for Tyler Lockett, Daniel Sams, Blake Slaughter, Ryan Mueller and maybe even a few others.

I’m inclined to choose Lockett. Even though he has missed two games with a hamstring injury he ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 475 receiving yards and set a single-game program record with 237 receiving yards at Texas. Those numbers are too good to ignore, plus he has developed into a strong leader.

On the defensive side of the ball, I would narrowly choose Mueller over Slaughter. Mueller leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and three quarterback hurries. And when he makes a big play, it is highlight worthy.
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Football Friday: Can Kansas State go 7-5?

It’s time for another Football Friday. Thanks again for all the questions. Let’s get right to them:


I think K-State’s final record will be 6-6. This is a team that has held a fourth-quarter lead in five of its games. This is a team that came close to pulling off upsets against ranked teams in back-to-back weeks. This is a team that isn’t far away from 4-2 or even 5-1. I think the Wildcats are getting better and will finish the season much stronger than they started it.

But they also haven’t won a close game yet, which is sometimes the hardest thing for young teams to learn how to do. So it’s not like a bowl game is assured. Best case, I see the Wildcats finishing 7-5. Worst case, I see 4-8.

Anything could happen. For fun, let’s breakdown the remaining schedule.
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Postgame: Michigan 71, K-State 57


In its first loss of the season, Kansas State made 36.7 percent of its shots from the field, 22.2 percent of its shots from three-point range and scored more than half of its points on fast break and second chance opportunities.

The Wildcats clearly struggled with Bruce Weber’s motion offense, and that’s the main reason they were unable to push No. 4 Michigan in the second half of a 71-57 defeat.

“We need to spend more time on offense, because a lot of us aren’t on the same page with knowing how to set screens and keep the offense moving,” starting forward Nino Williams said.

That showed when it took nearly 10 minutes for K-State to get its first points out of a half-court set. Seniors Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez were quiet until the game got out of reach and guards Will Spradling and Angel Rodriguez were the only two players that were consistently active.

But while they held the ball or sprinted around the perimeter to get open, K-State’s interior players seemed lost. They rarely caught the ball in good position to turn and shoot, and when they tried to pass back outside Michigan made them work.

The Wolverines didn’t allow the Wildcats to make many easy passes, and that was perhaps what hurt K-State the most. When forwards have to jump or lob passes to get the ball to guards on the perimeter, everything slows down.
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