Tuesday, November 24, 2015

KSU seniors struggle in last home game

The final home game is supposed to be a day to celebrate of the careers of your senior class. All of them are supposed to get the chance to play, and hopefully, with the home team coasting to a win, they are checked out of the game to standing ovations.

On Saturday, only some of that happened, as Kansas State’s four seniors combined for their lowest scoring effort at home this season.

To top it all off, the Wildcats lost to Baylor, 76-74 — the first loss in Bramlage Coliseum since Nov. 8.

(Kansas State’s Shane Southwell shoots against Baylor on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.)

“Just disappointing for the seniors, wish they would have played well, wish they would have gone out on a positive note,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “It was disappointing for our team. We’ve come a long way since our last loss here. This is a tough (Big 12 conference) and you’ve got to play every game.”

Shane Southwell finished the game with five points, but after making his first two shots, he missed his next four and made just 1 of 3 shots at the free-throw line.

Will Spradling, who is one of just four players in K-State history with 1,000 points, 300 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals, finished with three points and was 0 for 6 from the field.

Omari Lawrence did score three points, all at the foul line. But walk-on Ryan Schultz didn’t get the chance to take the floor at all in his final home game.

“They’re good guys, maybe put a little too much pressure on themselves,” Weber said. “Will had some open looks, he had a couple tough ones too and just never got going. Shane, since his injury, has struggled a little bit.”

Spradling had been playing well for the Wildcats lately, including a five-game stretch where he was consistently making key shots for the Wildcats in late-game situations.

This time he missed on all six of his 3-point attempts, but finished with eight assists. Most of those came on Marcus Foster 3s late in the game. Foster was the only K-State player to make a 3-pointer, and he had seven.

“Me and Will are close,” Foster said. “He’s a shooter and I’m a shooter too — he didn’t hit 3-pointers. You have games like that. Every shooter’s going to do it.”

While spirits could have been down after the game, Thomas Gipson said Southwell was the one leading a rally cry in the locker room going forward.

“Shane said in the locker room that this wasn’t our last game,” he said. “He told everybody to pick their heads up because we’re going to win the Big 12 (tournament). This was a tough loss for us, but we have to bounce back.”

The Wildcats will get their chance to do that against Iowa State at the Big 12 tournament on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

At 20-11, the Wildcats have a favorable resume with seven wins against top-50 RPI opponents — no team has ever missed the NCAA tournament with that resume — but with a poor road showing this season, there is a chance they could be a team that ends up on the chopping block if a number of surprise teams win their conference tournaments and earn unexpected bids.

Weber said he hopes that they aren’t a bubble team, but there’s only one way to make sure you stay off the bubble come Selection Sunday.

“I think you want to make sure you don’t have to sit there hoping and praying all the things go your way,” he said. “You’ve got to take care of business on Thursday against Iowa State. That’s all we can do. That’s the only thing we can control.”


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