Kansas State forward Thomas Gipson, right, is fouled by Texas A&M guard Alex Caruso during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Orlin Wagner
December 20, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Texas A&M owned the stat sheet, but Kansas State owned the scoreboard.

The Aggies (7-3) had more rebounds, assists, points in the paint, and points off turnovers, and had half as many turnovers as the Wildcats (7-4), but the only stat that mattered was the final score, which showed Kansas State as a 71-64 winner in the Wildcat Classic at the Sprint Center on Saturday night.

''We won every stat,'' Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said following the game, ''but we didn't make enough tough plays when we needed to.''

Kansas State was in a de facto home game a little more than 100 miles from their Manhattan, Kansas campus, and the Wildcats used the partisan crowd to their advantage.

''Playing here is a special opportunity for our kids,'' Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. ''I kept telling them that we had to take advantage of that. To have that crowd (14,884) was great, but we told them that they had to feed the crowd.''

Never was the crowd more a factor than when Wesley Iwundu grabbed a rebound on the defensive end and went end-to-end for a thunderous dunk. On the next play, he raced to get a pass that was too far in front of him and threw it over his head to teammate Nino Williams for an easy layup.

''I told him that's the craziest dunk I've ever seen, in a game or watching a game,'' Williams said. ''He just took off.''

Williams was key for the Wildcats. He led the team with 17 points, and Weber called his game ''efficient.''

''Nino was very efficient, like he's been,'' Weber said. ''He knows his role. He's a junkyard dog.''

Along with Williams, Thomas Gipson added 14 points, and Marcus Foster and Iwundu had 10 each. Texas A&M was led by Kourtney Roberson and Danuel House with 13 points each. Jordan Green had 11 and Alex Caruso 10.

''We fought at a high level,'' Kennedy said. ''Kansas State threw a lot of punches at us early. We responded too late.

''We've got pretty good character. We didn't fold, and that was the best thing.''

The Wildcats saw their seven-point halftime lead trimmed to five points before an 11-2 run allowed them to put the game on cruise control. A 6-0 run by Texas A&M with just over four minutes remaining cut the lead to 61-54. The Wildcats missed six straight free throws to see the lead reduced to four points a couple of times, but held off the Aggies down the stretch.

Kansas State went inside early and often. After an opening 3-point basket by Justin Edwards, the Wildcats' next nine field goals were inside the paint. It wasn't until 6:16 remained in the first half that the Wildcats scored again from beyond 5 feet. Foster's 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 31-20 lead, the largest of the half.

''That's what they were giving us,'' Weber said. ''They stayed with Marcus because they weren't going to let him beat them.''

Even the first six free throws during the opening run were generated by fouls on inside play. In all, 10 of Kansas State's 14 first-half field goals were in the paint. The Wildcats shot a sizzling 82 percent from the field in the first half.


Texas A&M: Saturday's game was the fifth of the Aggies' six nonconference contests against teams that played in the NCAA tournament last season. The Aggies are 2-3 in those games. ... Texas A&M is 7-18 against Kansas State, with most of those games coming when the Aggies were part of the Big 12 Conference. It was the first matchup between the two schools since Texas A&M left the Big 12 following the 2011-12 season.

Kansas State: The Wildcats are now 107-76 all-time in Kansas City.


Nino Williams, coming off Big 12 Conference Player of the Week honors, was one of four Wildcats in double figures. He's looking forward to some time off over the Christmas break. ''He's got a case of `old man knees,''' coach Bruce Weber said. ''He's got to continue to take care of those things. But he's been in the system and he's learned how to make big plays.''


Texas A&M hosts Mercer on Dec. 30.

Kansas State hosts Texas Southern on Dec. 28.

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