KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There might be some argument, especially 90 miles to the east in Lawrence, Kan., but Kansas State coach Bruce Weber believes he has the most valuable freshman in the Big 12 Conference — Marcus Foster.
“If he plays like that he is,” Weber said after Foster scored a career-high 34 points in Kansas State’s 74-57 victory over No. 15 Texas on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Foster scored on three-pointers (5-of-8), two-pointers (8-of-8) and from the line (3-of-4) to tally the most points by a Kansas State freshman since Michael Beasley had 39 against Kansas on March 1, 2008.
Foster was the only player in double figures for the Wildcats (16-7, 6-4 in the Big 12).
“I was just hot,” Foster said. “I stayed in my shots. I started with defense first.”
Foster not only nearly outscored the entire Texas team in the first half (18-17), his points came at critical times.
After Texas (18-5, 7-3) scored the first two points of the game, Foster scored the next eight on two 3-pointers and an alley-oop slam.
When Texas mounted its only threat of the game early in the second half, Foster hit another 3-pointer and followed with a layup in transition.
“I thought he played terrific,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “He didn’t have any resistance.”
Barnes was unimpressed with his team’s effort.
“They beat us every way you can be beat, right from the very beginning, whether you want to talk lose balls, turning it over the way we did,” Barnes said. “You’re not going to win the game turning it over 18 times. Some of it had to do with them, but a lot of it had to do with what we were doing.
“The things we talked about, we didn’t do any of them. They did. They played harder, with more energy. If you ask me any category, I would tell you they beat us in that category.”
Isaiah Taylor was the only Longhorn in double figures with 17 points.
K-State took control from the start. The Wildcats used an early 18-2 run to open a comfortable lead, and were never seriously threatened.
Kansas State’s defense was stifling, especially in the first half, when Texas shot only 25 percent (5-of-20) from the field and scored 18 points.
The Longhorns finally hit double figures in points with 6:59 remaining in the half.
“It was one of those days; we were in a zone,” Weber said of his team’s effort. “It’s shooting (52.8 percent from the field), but it’s really energy.
“The first group did it, then the second group did it. It kept going. We played off the crowd. We’ve been pretty good at home … probably not this good.”
Texas had only three assists in the first half, compared to 10 turnovers, while the Wildcats had 11 assists on their 15 field goals, with only two giveaways.
Kansas State led, 39-18, at the break.
After falling behind, 45-21, early in the second half, Texas got back to within 50-34, led by Taylor, who scored 11 of Texas’ first 16 points of the half.
But Foster went on a quick 5-0 spurt and the lead was safe. Texas could get no closer than 19 until mop-up time late in the game.
“Texas is a team that makes a lot of runs,” Foster said. “When they went on a run, I was in the right spot to make plays and my teammates found me.”
K-State forward Thomas Gipson has a different perspective: “He’s an elite scorer. You get him the ball.”
The Longhorns struggled from the field, finishing the game shooting 32.7 percent (18-of-55). But their defense let them down even more.
They came into the game allowing their opponents to shoot 39.6 percent from the field. But the Wildcats torched them for 28-of-53 from the field, including 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range.
The game was decided early.
After Jonathan Holmes hit a 10-foot jumper to open the scoring, K-State scored 18 of the next 20 points, keyed by two 3-pointers each by Foster and Will Spradling.
NOTES: Kansas State stretched its
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