Flanny’s Five: Kansas State shrugs off KU loss, muscles past Oklahoma
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Five things we learned from Kansas State’s gritty 72-66 win over Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
If you really want to make Wildcats coach Bruce Weber smile ear to ear, stick some scratching, clawing, gnawing defense on the opponent.
And that’s exactly what Kansas State did to Oklahoma on Tuesday.
"That (Oklahoma) team is one of the top offensive teams you’ll see," Weber said after Tuesday’s win. "And I thought we did a great job stopping them when we had to. To hold them to 33 percent shooting says a lot about our determination.
"We held them to 66 points, and I think their lowest point total this season had been 62. We knew we weren’t going to win if we let them score 90 because we just don’t have the offensive confidence right now. But we know if we play defense, we can have success."
The Wildcats (13-4 overall, 3-1 Big 12) also came up with five steals, forced nine turnovers and held the Sooners to 7-of-23 3-point shooting.
And when push came to shove, literally, the Wildcats rose up and controlled the glass. Up until the final few minutes, when Oklahoma had a six-point lead and seemed to be in command, the Sooners had held a 34-30 edge in rebounding. But the Wildcats came up with 12 of the final 16 rebounds.
"We’re not the tallest team, so we have to fight a little harder," K-State’s Shane Southwell said.
SOUTHWELL GETS DOWN
One of the top defensive efforts of the night belonged to Southwell, who came up with two blocks, two steals and eight rebounds.
Southwell also contributed to the shutdown of Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark, who came into the game averaging 18.3 points per game but finished with just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.
The Wildcats’ switching and helping defense seemed to irritate Clark.
"I think that was part of it," Southwell said. "And then his coach took him out and I think he got frustrated."
Southwell also came up with a huge steal in the final minute that helped seal the victory.
"I’m the defensive stopper!" Southwell said, laughing. "Really, no one wants to be ‘that guy’ that gets scored on in the final minutes. That would have been a big ‘two’ for them, but I just tried to stay aggressive."
One of Weber’s primary concerns prior to the Oklahoma game was the potential hangover effect of the Kansas loss.
The Wildcats had won 10 straight games before getting thumped 86-60 by the Jayhawks on Saturday.
"You never want to see one loss turn into two," Weber said.
That was the message preached by Weber the last 72 hours.
"Oh, yeah, coach talked a lot about that," freshman guard Marcus Foster said. "He told us about last year when they lost to Kansas and then they came out and didn’t play well and lost to Iowa State. We wanted to make sure we didn’t (have a letdown)."
Foster certainly did his part. He delivered 18 points with five assists and three rebounds.
And Foster sparked a furious surge in the first half that turned the game around. With the Sooners leading 14-8, Foster drilled three straight 3-pointers, part of five straight K-State 3-pointers. That put the Wildcats up 23-17.
"He’s just a tough kid and one of the most mature freshmen I’ve seen," Weber said. "He had a dislocated finger before the Kansas game and I didn’t want to say anything. But he comes back after that Kansas game and played really hard tonight."
WHO WAS THAT GUY?
Coming into the game, freshman forward Wesley Iwundu had tried only five 3-pointers, making one.
But on Tuesday, he stunned the crowd, his teammates and perhaps even his opponents by drilling 3-of-3 from beyond the arc.
None was bigger than the 3-pointer Iwundu hit with about five minutes left and the game slipping away from the Wildcats.
The Sooners were leading 62-56 and seemed to have all the momentum when Iwundu was left alone in the corner and buried a triple.
That launched a 10-1 run that put the Wildcats up 66-63.
"I thought that 3 was very big for them," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought it gave them a lift and jumped them back into the game."
OFF NIGHT FOR GIP
K-State’s second-leading scorer, Thomas Gipson, had a forgettable night. He was shut out in the first half and, in fact, didn’t get off his first shot of the game until 11 minutes remained. And he didn’t score until hitting a free throw with under 10 minutes left.
Gipson, averaging 11.8 points per game, finished with just four points and also had three turnovers.
"I came into this game thinking that for us to win, Thomas was going to have to have a big game," Weber said. "I thought we would have a lot of low posts for him. And then he turns out to have one of his worst games.
"That shows you how much I know."
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter @jflanagankc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.