By: Brennan Mense
The K-State team reeling from two embarrassing losses shocked the 8th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in a Big Monday showcase at Bramlage Coliseum. K-State trailed for nearly the entire first half, but recovered to take a 31-30 lead at halftime. After falling behind by eight in the second half, K-State rallied to take the lead for good at the 8:01 mark, thanks to the hot shooting of Nigel Johnson and Thomas Gipson.
Halftime Thoughts: Perry Ellis wore out the Wildcats interior defense, scoring the Jayhawk’s first nine points and 16 overall in the first half. Thanks largely to Perry Ellis, the Jayhawks ran out to an early lead until Johnson came off the bench to close the gap with eight points. Nino Williams—after missing several easy shots—hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds left in the half to give K-State a surprising halftime lead.
Player of the Game: There is no debate here, Johnson gets the prize. The sophomore came off the bench to score a career-high of 20 points, going 8-11 from the field and 4-5 from three-point range in the process. On a night where Marcus Foster and Nino Williams combined to shoot 7-23 with 21 points, Johnson stepped up to carry the load. Runner-up goes to Williams, who despite starting 1-7 from the field, hit his final 3 shots and seven of eight free throws to finish with 15 points.
Game Defining Moment: With the Wildcats down three, Nigel Johnson buried a three from the wing to tie the game at 47-47 with 11:26. After the Wildcats fell behind 52-49 two minutes later, Johnson buried a three from well beyond the top of the key to tie the game at 52-52 with 9:51. K-State would then take the lead less than two minutes later.
Up Next: As exhilarating as this win is for the Wildcats, their NCAA Tournament hopes are still pretty much non-existent. Their next game will be against an Iowa State team that is trying to chase down KU on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats will enter the game at 14-15 and 7-9 in the Big 12. Iowa State is currently 20-6 and 11-4 in the conference with a home game against Baylor on Wednesday beforehand.