K-State holds off late A&M rally for win

By Erik Stone

KANSAS CITY, MO.-Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Nino Williams scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures and Kansas State overcame late game troubles at the free throw line as the Wildcats hung on for a 68-64 victory over former Big 12 opponent Texas A&M Saturday night before 14,884 at Sprint Center. The game marked the first meeting between the two schools since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.
The game began with the teams trading baskets and a 5-5 tie in the first two minutes. A 9-2 K-State run made the score 14-7 in favor of the Wildcats with 15:25 left in the first after Thomas Gipson capped it off with a layup. A few minutes later, the lead was 21-11 after a pair of Williams free throws and it looked like K-State might have a chance at running the Aggies out of the building.
However Texas A&M which came into the game with a 7-2 record would not allow the Wildcats to run away and kept their deficit manageable and even closed to within 31-26 with 3:51 left before the half. Within two minutes the lead was back to double digits at 38-28 on a jumper by Wesley Iwundu who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday. K-State eventually would settle for a 39-32 halftime advantage.
After A&M’s Jordan Green opened the second half scoring with a layup to cut the Wildcat lead to 39-34, Kansas State went on another 11-2 tear for its largest lead of the evening at 50-36 on a Jevon Thomas layup. The scoring play of the night was a monster dunk by Iwundu as he came flying towards the basket which triggered a roar from the pro-Wildcat crowd at Sprint Center and triggered the playing of the crowd-pumping tune “Sandstorm” for the first time this season. Iwundu’s heroics made the score 59-46 with 6:55 left to play.
K-State seemingly had the game in control but they left the door open late for Texas A&M when an old nuisance resurfaced as the Wildcats suddenly were having problems making free throws. Thomas had the most difficulty missing six of his 10 attempts from the charity stripe. However, Gipson made a pair of free throws to widen the lead to 68-61 but A&M would not go away as they hit another three-pointer to cut the margin to just four points. However, Marcus Foster made two free throws and Thomas managed to sink one to provide the final score of 71-64.
Gipson who had been struggling in recent games had a nice rebound night with 14 points while Foster and Iwundu each had 10 apiece. Kourtney Roberson and Danuel House each paced the Aggies with 13 points.
Kansas State (7-4) returns to Bramlage Coliseum for its final two non-conference games starting with a contest against Texas Southern on December 28. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.

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