For a span of six minutes Monday night, nobody was better than Nino Williams.
Nothing has come easy for the Kansas State sophomore this season. He’s only scored in double figures once in almost two months.
Something was different Monday night against Texas Tech, though.
The Red Raiders had just taken a two-point lead with 14:17 to play. That’s when Williams went to work. Off the bench, the Leavenworth native proceeded to score 11 straight points and grab four rebounds for the Wildcats, outscoring Texas Tech 11-3 during a stretch of six minutes that helped K-State run away with a 75-55 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.
“You never know when you are going to get the opportunity to play,” said Williams, who was 5 of 8 from the field and finished with seven rebounds. “Just keep a good head.”
The outburst from Williams came on the heels of a similar scoring binge by Thomas Gipson, who scored eight straight points — four from the free-throw line — during a span of three minutes. He finished with a game-high 20 points for the Wildcats (23-5, 12-3 Big 12).
Williams is only averaging 14 minutes a game this season, but has watched those minutes dwindle of late, four times playing eight minutes or less in the last six games, including just one minute against Baylor and five minutes three days ago at Texas.
Often Williams’ playing time hinges on how Shane Southwell is doing. For example, when Williams scored 13 points against the Mountaineers, it came on a night when Southwell spent much of the game on the bench in foul trouble with just three points.
“When Shane is playing well, I know I’m not going to play that much or if he gets in foul trouble I know I am going to play,” said Williams, who has failed to score in seven Big 12 games this season. “I just keep a good attitude, play hard and the rest will take care of itself.”
The 6-foot-5 forward might be breaking out for the Wildcats. He scored 13 points off the bench in Monday’s win over West Virginia. That was the first time he reached double figures since scoring 17 in K-State’s Big 12 opener against Oklahoma State on Jan. 5.
K-State coach Bruce Weber was especially pleased with Williams’ work on the boards. His seven rebounds are the most for Williams since he also grabbed seven against South Dakota on Dec. 31. He hadn’t had more than five rebounds in a game since then, and he had only done that twice.
“Nino did a good job of grabbing offensive rebounds… which we had been getting after him about, and he made some nice plays,” Weber said. “He got on a nice run. One of the keys to our team is that everyday it seems that someone steps up. It’s hard to stop every guy that we have. I’ve said it from the beginning that we have eight starters and all of them can be very productive.”