Red Raiders handle Foster-less Wildcats

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Senior forward Thomas Gipson tips the opening tipoff away from Texas Tech center Isaiah Manderson to open the Wildcats' 58-51 win over the Red Raiders on Jan. 14, 2015 in Bramlage Coliseum. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Last time out against Texas Tech, K-State relied on a 14-point outing from star guard Marcus Foster to overcome a late rally by the visiting Red Raiders.

This time around, on the road in Lubbock, Texas, K-State had to go it alone without Foster’s talents. Not because of injury, but because of suspension.

Prior to Wednesday’s game, K-State announced via press release that Foster and freshman forward Malek Harris were suspended for violating team rules. The suspension forced the Wildcats to rely on their supporting cast, which they failed to do, falling to Texas Tech 64-47.

“We have — as a team — we have failed at maturity,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber told K-State Sports after the game. “We have failed at discipline and consistency, and that’s on and off the court. That’s why we are 12-11 and 5-5 (in the conference).”

K-State (12-11, 5-5) attempted to counter the loss of Foster by going down low to senior forward Thomas Gipson. The K-State big man did his part, leading the team with 13 points on 5-10 shooting. The only bad part with that effort was that only five of Gipson’s 13 points came in the second half, which effectively shut down the Wildcat offense in the closing 20 minutes.

Still recovering from an injury, senior forward Nino Williams struggled to lead the team offensively alongside Gipson, finishing with just four points on 2-8 shooting.

In previous games, Williams’ 10- to 15-foot shot has allowed the offense to set up and space the floor effectively. Without it, K-State was forced to put up contested shots. The Wildcats shot 19-49 from the field, including 6-18 from 3-point range.

K-State finished the game on the wrong side of a 19-3 run that Texas Tech used to seal the game and erase any chance of a Wildcat comeback. During that run, the Wildcats went 0-5 from 3-point range, and were desperately searching for any momentum to counter the Red Raiders and the superb shooting of junior guard Devaugntah Williams.

Williams led all scorers with 22 points, including a 3-5 performance from behind the arc.

Despite Williams’ impressive outing, it was never going to be easy for K-State. The Wildcats trailed 8-6 with 15:13 remaining in the half and were never able to tie or retake the lead.

Texas Tech started the game on fire from 3-point range, hitting four of their first six shots from behind the arc. The Red Raiders finished the night 9-19 from 3-point land, propelling their offense after each K-State mini run.

What K-State couldn’t do to match Texas Tech from behind the arc, they made up for it in the paint, scoring 16 of their first 26 points before the half in the paint, effectively feeding Gipson down low to start the game.

That side of K-State was less evident in the second half. And with Foster and Harris out, the Wildcats were left dazed at times, attempting to piece together offense and defense.

According the pre-game press release sent out over social media by K-State, Weber and his staff will need to see progress in order for Foster and Harris to rejoin the team. Their statuses for Saturday’s clash with Texas are uncertain as of Wednesday evening.

“Our players have expectations and there are consequences when you don’t live up to those expectations,” Weber said in the press release. “Hopefully they will learn from this experience and make the necessary progress to rejoin our team.”

The Wildcats will now begin a three-game stretch against ranked opponents on Saturday when they return to Bramlage Coliseum to take on No. 25 Texas, who’s also coming off of a loss on Wednesday. The meeting will be during K-State’s annual blackout game, with tipoff set for 3 p.m.

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