Nothing could go wrong for the K-State basketball team, as they blew out the Troy Trojans in Bramlage Coliseum to improve to 7-3 on the season and 6-1 at home. The Wildcats were led by an impressive performance early by Marcus Foster, who finished with 14 points on the night.
The first half was all about the extended run by the Wildcats. After a 14-2 run by the Wildcats to start the game, there was no looking back for the team as they rode their momentum. The Trojans couldn’t get any momentum in the first half, going 7-25 from the field. The Trojans didn’t get into the double digits until the 3:40 mark, which speaks to style of defense that the Wildcats were playing.
The Wildcats capitalized on a 28-13 rebounding margin in the first half to get second and third opportunities on offense, having 14 rebounds on the offensive side. The Wildcats couldn’t go wrong when it came to getting rebounds, all of the tips and wild rebounds went in the Wildcats favor.
Junior Thomas Gibson led the way in the paint in the first half, grabbing five rebounds. Gibson helped his team score 18-points in the paint in the half. Freshman Marcus Foster had the hot hand in the half, having nine points. Foster took advantage of when he was put at the charity stripe, going 3-3. Senior Will Spradling helped set the pace, having all of his six points come from behind the arc, going 2-5.
The second half was a downhill battle for the Trojans, as they tried to fight back. But the momentum that the Wildcats had built on their home court was too much for the upset-minded Trojans to come back. Spradling scored eight of his 14-points in the second half, firing in two more three-point shots to bring his total to 4-9.
“I’ve been doing well in practice, shooting the ball really well,” Spradling said. “The coaches have been on me to shoot it more, and that is something that I tried to do today.”
A part of the team’s success against the Trojans was the pass-first concept that the players shown because of the zone-defense that the Trojans were utilizing. Players were constantly trying to make an extra pass, leading to open shots in every part of the court. Out of 28 total field goals for the Wildcats, 24 baskets were assisted. The passing led to open shots close to he basket, with 30-points coming in the paint.
Rebounds were also a critical to the success. The Wildcats had 44 rebounds on the night, with 17 rebounds coming on the offensive side leading to 12-second chance points. The Wildcats also held the Trojans to just 27 total rebounds.
“We’ve put a lot of time into it, and with boxing out, they’ve watched film and they’ve realized how it has affected them,” said K-State coach Bruce Weber. “We’ve stayed with five guys coming to the glass, its got to be a team effort.”
Foster led the way for much of the game for the Wildcats, with his 14 points on the night, he had his ninth-straight double-digit game of the season.
Foster’s gameplay even impressed Troy’s head coach Phil Cunningham,
“[Foster] is a big time player; he can shoot, he can drive it, his body size is physically tough, he is mature as a freshman, and he is just a really talented player,” Cunningham said after the game. “He is going to do great things [at K-State].”
Weber also commented on how Foster has improved his game in his first season with he Wildcats,
“Since he got here he has been very focused, he has put time in the gym and understands how important it is to get in the gym and shoot.” Weber said. “He is really trying to learn how to move without the ball, read screens, and he is starting to make good passes. He just has to be a little more patient, he gets going and he thinks that he can score every time.”
The Wildcats will next face No. 20 Gonzaga in INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita on Saturday, in what will be one of the biggest challenges that the Wildcats have faced all season. First-tip is set for 2:30 p.m. CST.