Kansas State coach Bruce Weber repeated something on Saturday that he’s said often this season.
When Marcus Foster came to Manhattan, he didn’t completely know what K-State was getting.
If he didn’t already know, Weber sure has a better idea now.
Foster joined elite K-State company on Saturday, scoring 34 points in a 74-57 rout of No. 15 Texas that was never really close.
Foster became just the third Wildcat freshman to score 30 or more points in a game, joining Michael Beasley and Mike Evans. His career high is the most points scored by any freshman in the Big 12 this season.
Weber said Foster’s journey from his arrival to present day has been full of surprises.
“It’s so funny because when he first got here we were like ‘man, he’s pretty good in the summer workouts,’ is he going to be in practice when we make him guard,” he said. “And he was pretty good there. Then we scrimmaged a pretty good team and he was our leading scorer there against really good players, and now you’ve got to do it during a game.
“One of the coaches said, ‘he’s going to get 20-25 here soon,’ and then he did that against Oral Roberts. The other day, we were sitting around and some ticker said somebody got 30, and it was ‘Marcus can get that one day.’ Somebody just said it.”
Foster did his work efficiently. After Texas scored the first points of the game, the freshman answered with back-to-back 3-pointers and then threw down a high alley-oop on a pass from fellow freshman Wesley Iwundu.
Foster scored 10 of the Wildcats’ first 12 points as they got out to a 12-2 lead, one that they stretched to 18-4. Later, with Foster back in the game after short rest, he helped engineer a 10-0 run to push the K-State lead to 37-14 in the final minutes of the first half. He finished with 17 points in the first half — a career high for a half — on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the perimeter.
But Foster’s biggest moment of the game might have come in the second half, after Texas had cut the Wildcats’ 21-point halftime lead down to 16 points.
Weber called a timeout, and Foster came out of the break to score five straight points.
“I just relaxed, stayed in my shot and got things going on defense at first,” Foster said. “It’s just one those days. We always talk about being at the magic level, I was on the magic level.
“I just felt that it was my day. I was taking good shots and knocking them down.”
Weber said he thought it was the most complete two halves of basketball his team has played all season.
“Just to sustain it was pretty good,” he said. “(Texas) just put their head down second half and took it at us. We had a timeout and I said we’ve got to win this next minute. We went 5-0 and that just kind of knocked them out.”
Foster finished the game with 34 points, making 13 of 16 shots and 5 of 8 3-pointers.
“He didn’t get any resistance by anybody,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “I thought he played terrific. I thought as a team they did whatever they wanted to do. He did a terrific job and they really deserved this win.”
The Wildcats will now turn their attention to Monday, when they will host Big 12-leading Kansas at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Weber thought the key in Saturday’s game against Texas, was that they didn’t have to extend minutes to win the game.
Foster and Will Spradling played a team-high 29 minutes, but spent the last four and a 1/2 on the bench. And it never seemed like anyone had to exert extra energy either.
While Foster was doing his thing, seemingly scoring at will, K-State had other guys putting up unusual numbers too. Junior forward Thomas Gipson was held to three points, but had 11 rebounds. Iwundu scored eight points and had eight assists. Will Spradling was 3 for 3 from 3 for nine points.
Off the bench, the Wildcats got eight points from Nino Williams and another eight from DJ Johnson.
The Wildcats were outrebounded by six, but scored 26 points off of 18 Texas turnovers and had 13 steals, including four from Spradling.
“We were in a zone,” Weber said. “It’s really the energy and the excitement and the passion, first group did it and then the second group did it, and we kept going, I hope we can carry that energy into Monday.”