Wesley Iwundu’s three-point play with just under a minute to go and a key turnover in the game’s final 10 seconds helped Kansas State avoid was becoming a monumental collapse and allowed the Wildcats to pull out a 60-56 Big 12 victory Tuesday night over Texas Tech in Lubbock.
K-State got out to an early 9-4 lead against the resurgent Red Raiders who were playing before a packed house which included an estimated 6,000 students. After leading 16-11 however, the Wildcats went cold and Tech went on a 15-9 run for a 26-25 halftime advantage. Things would get worse for cold-shooting K-State to start the second half as the Red Raiders would outscore them 16-9 in the first 11 minutes to lead 42-24. However, the game turned on a flagrant foul against the Red Raiders with 9:09 remaining allowing Kansas State to go on a 20-5 run and lead 54-47 with just over four minutes left on the clock.
Marcus Foster who scored a game-high 17 points was a key factor, first completing a four-point play off a three-point basket and a free throw and dishing out an assist to Will Spradling who knocked down a trey from the corner on a night the Senior guard would surpass 1,000 points for his K-State career. However, thanks to intense defensive pressure by Texas Tech and costly turnovers the lead almost immediately evaporated and the Red Raiders took a 56-54 lead as part of a 9-0 run. Then after yet another near turnover Iwundu took a pass and maneuvered in the lane for a layup and was fouled with 56.6 seconds remaining. His free throw put K-State back in front 57-56. After a Red Raider miss on the other end Spradling sank one of two free throws but the Red Raiders still had a chance to tie or win the game with no time on the shot clock. However, Tech then turned the ball over and Iwundu finished the game with a layup as the buzzer sounded, putting an end to a six-game road losing streak and giving K-State a much-needed boost to its NCAA Tournament resume.
Joining Foster in double figures for K-State were Iwundu with 12 points while Spradling and Thomas Gipson added 10 apiece. Dejan Kravic led Tech with 13 points while Jordan Tolbert who had been shut out during the game between the two teams in Manhattan last month added 10. According to K-State Sports Information, Tuesday night’s win was the 46th for head coach Bruce Weber at Kansas State giving him the most in the first two years for a Wildcat coach surpassing Lon Kruger who had 45 in his first two seasons.
(Kansas State 19-9, 9-6) returns to Bramlage Coliseum Saturday to host Iowa State in a 6 p.m. tip-off.
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