With a month of the 2014-15 season in the books, Bruce Weber and his team still have yet to find an identity to carry them through into conference play. Until that happens, K-State may have to settle for winning ugly.
K-State’s (6-4) performance against Savannah State (3-8) Sunday certainly fell under the category of ugly despite what the final score indicated. The Wildcats turned the ball over 17 times and were called for 22 fouls, but pulled away late for a 73-53 victory.
“I think we make it hard on ourselves,” Weber said after the game. “They kept beating us and making us help and getting some fouls. The decision-making is just not real good. We have to let the game come, and we, as coaches, have to do a better job at letting them play in practice. Hopefully they can learn from the mistakes in practice and get better at them.”
Nino Williams had himself a near-career day, leading the Wildcats with 20 points and seven rebounds. Marcus Foster added 13 points and seven assists himself. The two accounted for 45 percent of K-State’s scoring.
“I know the system, I’ve been here for three years so I know little ways of scoring and getting open,” Williams said. “I think I did a better job of screening tonight, so I got more open shots. Usually I just play like I play, crash the boards and get some easy buckets.”
Justin Edwards and Thomas Gipson also contributed despite being limited in minutes due to foul trouble. Gipson finished with 10 points and three rebounds, Edwards with nine points and four rebounds.
Several times in the early stages of the game, K-State looked to walk-on Brian Rohleder for a boost of energy. The junior guard only accounted for two points, but took three-consecutive offensive charges and added an assist to keep the Wildcats on top through the opening 20 minutes.
“That’s my role on the team and I think that’s what I bring everyday to practice —bring energy and make sure everyone is ready to go,” Rohleder said. “The big play, it just so happened today that it happened three-straight plays. That’s what I do and that’s what I need to bring to the team. It just worked out today.”
The Tigers trailed by seven points at the halftime break. They got as close as six points at 47-41 with under 11 minutes to play in the second half, but were outscored 26-12 to finish the game. As a team, K-State shot 70 percent from the field in the second half.
“We picked it up defensively,” Williams said of the run to close out the game. “We got Thomas (Gipson) some easy buckets, and when we get him easy baskets he either gets a bucket or an and-one on a foul. We got a lot of good shots, I think we got two or three assists on that run. Most of all, it was just defense. We challenged ourselves in one of the media timeouts to get three stops, and we ended up getting three or four in a row.”
Terel Hall led Savannah State in scoring with 17 points on six of 11 shooting. Alante Fenner was the only other Tigers player in double figures with 10 points.
The victory gives K-State back-to-back wins for just the second time all season, and the first in nearly a month.
K-State will return to action next Saturday against Texas A&M; in Kansas City for the Wildcat Classic. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. from the Sprint Center.