Wildcats put together win against TCU
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The HDN
MANHATTAN -- Bruce Weber wasn't surprised.
Disappointed, yes, but hardly shocked that his Kansas State University men's basketball team had an emotional letdown Wednesday night against Big 12 doormat Texas Christian.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, who fumbled around with TCU for the first half hour or so, they broke out of their slumber in the last 10 minutes and eventually pulled away for a lackluster 65-53 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.
"It's disappointing in some ways but kind of what you expected," said Weber, whose Wildcats improved to 18-8 overall, remained unbeaten at home in the Big 12, and moved into a third-place tie with Iowa State and Oklahoma at 8-5. "Obviously we had three emotional games in a row -- Texas and Kansas and then the (double overtime) loss Saturday at Baylor.
"No matter what we say, you're probably not going to come out with great emotion and focus."
A less-than-capacity crowd for an 8 p.m. midweek game didn't help raise the energy level, either. The atmosphere, electric in home victories over nationally-ranked Texas and KU, clearly was lacking.
"Obviously (energy) is the first thing that's on the board, because you anticipate that," Weber said of the pregame talking points. "Not a great crowd -- we couldn't play off of the crowd and they didn't get us excited when we got a run -- so you've got to bring your own energy, just like on the road."
Thomas Gipson provided the energy inside with a double-double, scoring 16 points and leading the Wildcats to a big 47-24 rebounding advantage with 11. Marcus Foster added 13 points and six assists, with Nino Williams contributing 11 and Will Spradling 10.
It was a 15-2 spurt midway through the second half that finally put the Wildcats over the top as they successfully attacked TCU's zone inside while holding Frogs guard Kyan Anderson in check defensively.
After TCU tied it at 42-42 on Karviar Shepherd's rebound basket with 12:52 left, Spradling knocked down a 3-pointer, followed by Williams' stick-back and a D. J. Johnson free throw for a six-point lead. Shepherd halted the run briefly, but the Wildcats reeled off nine more to go up 57-44 on Gipson's two free throws at the 7:20 mark.
"We were just a little more patient, took care of the ball, get a shot," Weber said. "Will hits a couple of threes and we get some inside touches.
"Jevon (Thomas) did a good job of getting into the paint - ball movement. Nino's in when we make the run, D.J. comes in and gives us some energy. I guess all of the above."
Then there was the defense on Anderson, who had 17 of his 23 points in the first half.
"We just did a great job of helping," said Spradling, who drew the defensive assignment for much of the game. "He's a great one-on-one player and it's tough to guard one-on-one, but the bigs did a great job of hedging and then the guards did a great job of shrinking the gaps and made him give it up."
Shepherd was the only other double-figure scorer for TCU, finishing with 12 points. Fields led the Horned Frogs with six rebounds.
K-State, which travels to Oklahoma on Saturday, shot 43 percent from the field and hit four 3-pointers in the second half. TCU shot 36.2 percent for the game, 33.3 percent after intermission.
K-State squandered an early 11-2 advantage and turned the ball over 13 times in the first half but still led 27-26 at the break.
"In the first half our defensive energy wasn't like how we played against Texas and Kansas," Gipson said. "Our intensity wasn't there.
"In the second half we got it together and started playing more team defense."