Coming off an thrilling victory last Thursday against Ole Miss in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, the main challenge for the Kansas State Wildcats was to avoid a letdown against a South Dakota squad coming off recent close losses to Wyoming and Air Force.
It took a while for the Wildcats to find their game and despite never really getting into a consistent rhythm, fortune smiled upon K-State as the Cats escaped with a 64-62 win over the Coyotes Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum in a game that ended up coming down to the final shot. The Wildcats got out of the gate slow by going through a scoring drought that lasted eight minutes and nine seconds allowing South Dakota to open up a 15-4 lead. K-State then cut that deficit to 18-15 with an 11-3 run that took all of two minutes and 39 seconds. The Coyotes would again lead by nine points but the Wildcats spent the rest of the half chipping away and trailed 31-26 at intermission.
In the second half the Wildcats opened with an 8-2 surge capped by a Shane Southwell layup to grab their first lead since the early moments of the contest at 34-33, but the Coyotes would then reel off the next four points of the game to go back in front 37-34. From there the game was a back and forth struggle best described afterwards by Thomas Gipson as a “barfight.” South Dakota appeared to start swinging the game in their direction when they held a 57-54 lead with 5:53 left but the Wildcats would come off the mat and score the game’s next seven points for a 61-57 advantage. K-State held a 63-59 lead with just under 90 seconds remaining but the Wildcats would proceed to miss five consecutive free throws allowing the Coyotes to hang around. Gipson missed the second of two free throws with two seconds remaining giving South Dakota one last shot to stun the Bramlage crowd but the desperation shot was way off the mark and the Wildcats survived for their sixth win of the season.
Freshman Marcus Foster once again came up huge with a team-high 18 points while Southwell added 17 and Gipson had 13. For South Dakota, the leading scorer was Center Trevor Gruis with 18 points. Joining him in double figures was Adam Thoseby with 16 points. Of notable concern for Kansas State was the lack of scoring from Senior Will Spradling and from Nino Williams who attempted just one shot from the floor for the entire game.
Kansas State (6-3) will carry its four-game winning streak into their next game on Sunday evening when they host Troy University as part of a doubleheader with the Women’s team. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.
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