K-State picking up the pieces, playing team basketball

The Wildcats celebrate their 63-61 nail-biting comeback victory over the Baylor Bears at the final buzzer January 17, 2015, in Bramlage Coliseum. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

To paraphrase LL Cool J, “Don’t call it a comeback, we’ve been here all season.”

This K-State team has been here all season.

The team that proved uninspiring in losses to Tennessee and Long Beach State — the group stunned by Texas Southern in closing seconds — is the same team that has now rattled off four conference wins in a row, including two against top-20 teams in the span of a week.

Less than two weeks ago after three-consecutive losses, the purple faithful were in full “burn it down” mode.

It was at that point that something started to click.

K-State won against TCU. At the time, the 58-53 win seemed like nothing more than an ugly victory over a below-average conference foe — a disappointing win if there was such a thing.

In hindsight, though, that win was when things started to click.

Some will argue it was Oklahoma. But that shocking win in Norman wouldn’t have been possible if the Wildcats hadn’t reclaimed home court against the Frogs.

Sophomore guard Marcus Foster is the most important player on this team, no argument about it. Foster will be good, regardless. He’s just that special of a player. Even if his overall games enter into shades of sub par, he is a player who knows how to pick his spots.

Yet, K-State has learned quickly that there is much more to their team than Marcus Foster.

Down 12 points with 11:27 left in the second half Saturday against No. 22 Baylor, Foster picked up his fourth foul and was rightfully benched.

It all started clicking for this team again. Nino Williams was lights out, Wesley Iwundu had one of his best games of the season. The rest of the team provided productive minutes.

K-State doesn’t win this game two weeks ago. Proof? This is a game they’ve already played.

Down double digits, the Wildcats made the same valiant rally against Georgia on New Year’s Eve, but couldn’t finish.

The old adage is good teams win close games. Two weeks ago, they were not. Now? Well, at least for now, the jury is still out.

If playing good, team basketball is a new identity instead of a flavor of the month, then who knows what this team is capable of doing.

This was a team on the ropes struggling to stay standing, and K-State fans were ready to throw in the towel. Now, they’ve steadied themselves and even got a few good punches in.

But this is the team people were expecting. A competitor, a contender, something to be proud of.

What a difference a week can make in the world of college basketball.

Tim Everson was born in Wichita, KS in 1994. Before fifth grade he moved up to Manhattan for one year before settling in Riley, KS where he graduated from Riley County High School in 2012. Tim has worked for the Collegian since spring of 2014 and took over as Sports Editor during the summer of 2015. Tim loves sports, music, movies and good food when he can get it.