Will Spradling is a beast in a boy’s body. A week after Grantland declared only one other player in the nation looks less like he “belongs on a basketball court” than Spradling, #55 showed more heart, guts, and straight up blood than any other player on K-State’s team this year. Spradling got nailed – absolutely nailed – in the nose with an elbow in the first half and immediately went down. Everyone at the bar simultaneously agreed that that’s a broken nose as blood began pooling on the floor. When a coach is holding a towel over your nose and the towel starts dripping blood because it’s so saturated, that’s not just a ding on the snout – that’s some misaligned cartilage. Gonna miss the game against Oklahoma, plastic mask for the rest of the year, sucks to be Will Spradling. So what’s the kid do? Comes back in the second half to get a rebound and knock down a trey before coming out with about ten minutes to go and the game firmly in K-State’s pocket; not wearing any facial protection. Gotta love a player like that.
Overall, the Wildcats were able to dominate this game from almost beginning to end and the outcome was never really in question after they jumped out to a 21-9 lead, with a 38-19 margin at halftime. Steals seemed to flow all night as Shane Southwell recorded three of K-State’s nine takeaways – most of which led to fast break opportunities and ended in layups or foul shots. The free throw shooting that has dogged the team all year finally became a strength as the team hit 17 of 21 attempts (81 percent), although they could have missed every attempt and still won the game by nine.
Rodney McGruder was not called on to win the game, and spent the majority of the match on the bench (only 15 minutes of playing time). He wasn’t terribly effective during the moments he was on the court, missing his two three point attempts and shooting 40 percent on the night with one rebound, one assist, no steals, and three fouls. It was his lowest output since December 15 against Gonzaga, when he was held to four points on one-of-nine shooting.
In McGruder’s absence, Angel Rodriguez has been excellent at picking up the slack by knocking down threes and slashing his 5’11″ frame to the basket. However, tonight’s spotlight shown on bench player Thomas Gipson. Although only averaging 6.8 points on 19 minutes per game, Gipson shot a highly efficient 70 percent from the field to go along with three-of-three free throw shooting to finish with 17 points and seven rebounds on the night. Rodriguez managed 11 points on only 3-12 shooting, including 1-5 from behind the arc. However, he did finish with eight assists on the night.
Overall, the Wildcats did not completely shut down the Longhorns offense, allowing 41.3 percent field goal shooting by Texas. However, the Longhorns only managed to hit two of their nine three point attempts and finished with eleven fewer rebounds (28) than their average (39) – an average that ranked 30th overall in the nation.
Bruce Weber was incensed during much of the first half by the quick whistles of tonight’s referees, which sent McGruder and Martavious Irving to the bench early on in the game. He demonstrated said frustration by yelling at the officials. A lot. Weber engaged in multiple shouting matches with the refs and seemingly followed them from baseline to baseline during one change of possession. However, he was much relieved by the end of the game as K-State (16-4, 5-2) remained tied for second place in the Big 12 with the blowout win. Despite playing a team missing McGruder, Irving, and Spradling for much of the game, Texas (9-11, 1-6) was sorely beaten and remains ninth in the conference with only one league victory.