The K-State Wildcats earned a victory on their home floor against the No. 15 Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday, 80-73. K-State (20-9, 10-6) has now set a new Bramlage Coliseum record, winning 15 straight games in their home arena.
“A really good team win for us, there’s no doubt about it,” Coach Bruce Weber said.
Each of the two teams were slow getting out of the gates. K-State was first to explode, using threes from senior forward Shane Southwell. That led K-State to a 16-0 run, giving them an 11-point lead. Southwell scored nine of those 16 points. The run came after the Cyclones took a 9-4 lead.
Iowa State (22-6, 10-6) slowly chipped away at that lead for the entirety of the half. They were able to shave their deficit to just three points, but a basket by sophomore D.J. Johnson extended the Wildcats lead to five going into halftime.
Bruce Weber’s squad continued to hold their slender lead over the Cyclones until there was 10:55 left in the game. After that point, there were four lead changes, and the game was tied on five separate occasions.
The Wildcats took the lead for the final time with 1:37 in the game on a three-point jumper from senior Will Spradling. K-State controlled the game for the remaining minute and a half by making free throws. Spradling only scored two field goals on the day, but they couldn’t have come at a better time.
Free throws have been an achilles heal for the Wildcats at moments during the season. On Saturday, K-State truly turned the free throw line into the charity stripe. The Wildcats sunk 23 of their 29 free throws on the night.
“Free throws were huge,” said Weber. “That’s usually their [Iowa State’s] strength, they have pretty good free throw shooters, and they get to the line a lot. But we were able to at least be close with them. Some of it was down the stretch, they fouled us.”
K-State didn’t have a huge game from any one player. They had five players that scored double-digits and Southwell scored the most with 13 points. D.J. Johnson and Thomas Gipson both had solid nights in the point department and on the boards. Johnson had 12 points and six rebounds, while Gipson had 12 points and eight rebounds.
Senior forward Melvin Ejim had 30 points, and senior guard DeAndre Kane scored 24 points. Ejim also pulled down 16 rebounds. The duo showed why they are both at the top of the list for Big 12 player of the year.
“They had two special players today in that arena, Ejim and Kane,” said Weber. “Both of them are up probably for the top players in the league. They’ve had the big three all year and I though we did a good job on Niang. Some of it, we got him in foul trouble, which helped.”
The Wildcats’ victory over the 15th ranked team in the country gives them their fifth win over a ranked team in Manhattan.
“They get ready to play,” said Weber. “They are extra motivated, they are extra focused. We were very focused first half, they didn’t quit. We got them down, they came back. Then it was tied up, and we stepped up and made the plays we needed to. So, great experiences, it’s a learning experience. Every time you play, you learn something. Hopefully you get a little smarter.”
K-State have a quick turn around before they take to the court again. They will play again on Monday in Stillwater, Okla. against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.