Wildcats outlast South Dakota in Manhattan

12/11/2013

MANHATTAN (AP) — Bruce Weber knows there isn't a way for his team to eliminate the bitter taste of defeat from their season-opening loss to Northern Colorado.

MANHATTAN (AP) — Bruce Weber knows there isn't a way for his team to eliminate the bitter taste of defeat from their season-opening loss to Northern Colorado.

Most of all, he hoped his team would understand what it takes to finish games. The lesson settled in and it's exactly what took place on Tuesday night.

Marcus Foster had 18 points and Shane Southwell contributed 17 points and six rebounds as Kansas State beat South Dakota 64-62.

Kansas State (6-3) overcame a poor second-half performance from the foul line to top the Coyotes. While holding a 63-62 lead with 2 seconds left, Thomas Gipson converted on the first of two free throws to seal the victory.

"I don't know if I expected it, but I feared it more than anything," Weber said of the closer-than-expected scoring margin. "It was a big emotional win and everybody was telling them how good they are after Mississippi with lots of hype."

Trevor Gruis matched his season high with 18 points for South Dakota (3-6), while Adam Thoseby added a season-high 16.

"It's the way they play," Weber said of South Dakota's rugged, "pack" defense. "They get you to sleep walk. I did it against Wisconsin for years and I did it against Green Bay for years. You've got to learn how to play (against it)."

South Dakota opened strong, charging to a 15-4 lead with 10:59 remaining in the first half. Having returned four of its five starters from last season, the Coyotes used their experience to punish a depleted Kansas State frontcourt with 16 points in the paint in the first half.

The Wildcats twice cut the lead to three but South Dakota maintained a five-point advantage at the break.

"I thought they were a decent transition team, I didn't know if they were a great defensive transition team," South Dakota coach Joey James said. "I knew that they were a very good rebounding team so we tried to use our quickness against their height early on in that game."

Foster's 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range kept Kansas State within breathing range.

The Coyotes limited the defending Big 12 champions to 32 percent shooting in the first half while also forcing 11 turnovers.

"It's going to the dentist and getting a root canal or getting your teeth pulled, that's what it was like," Weber said of his team's offensive inconsistencies. "It's very frustrating, but the positives are we found a way to win and we made some plays."

Having seen limited offense before the break, Gipson opened up the second half with two consecutive baskets while Omari Lawrence added two of his nine second-half points.

"We called this one a bar fight," Gipson said of the postgame talk in the locker room. "We just had to make the right plays and get stops down the stretch."

Neither team was able to stake its claim on the lead as the second half alone carried 17 lead changes and four ties.

A 3-pointer from Southwell gave the Wildcats a 59-57 advantage with 4:52 left. The Wildcats held the lead for the remainder of the contest.

Maintaining its edge on rebounding proved to be crucial for the Wildcats. Four different players grabbed at least five rebounds including Gipson leading the way with eight.

The win pushed Bruce Weber's record at Kansas State to 25-2 when it outrebounds its opponent.

South Dakota attempted to close the gap by putting the Wildcats on the free throw line and it nearly paid off. The Wildcats closed the game with a 3-for-8 performance from the line, and a half-court heave from South Dakota's Brandon Bos fell short at the final buzzer.

"It'd be nice to make some free throws and it'd make it a lot easier, but we did find a way to win," Weber said. "Everyone knows we need to get better. If we don't, competition gets bigger and better and it's going to be tougher and tougher if we don't make some improvement."

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