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KANSAS STATE NOTEBOOK Tough stretch ahead for Wildcats

  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, at 11:18 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, at 12:47 a.m.

First half

•  Key play: Angel Rodriguez made back-to-back three-pointers, putting K-State ahead 26-13.

•  Key stat: Jordan Tolbert led all scorers with 10 points.

Second Half

•  Key play: Thomas Gipson scored and was fouled. His free throw essentially clinched the game with less than 3 minutes remaining.

•  Key stat: K-State outrebounded Texas Tech 19-10.

Rugged schedule

If Kansas State wins its next two games, at home against Iowa State on Saturday and at Kansas on Monday, it will move up the Big 12 standings and at worst share first place with the Jayhawks.

Kansas State lost to both the Cyclones and Jayhawks last month, but it is a challenge the Wildcats are looking forward to.

“You’re talking NCAA Tournament,” coach Bruce Weber said. “That’s what is in front of you. The one-day prep is not an easy thing.…

“With the two teams that beat us, hopefully it’s extra motivation if you want to stay up in the race. Also you are talking about RPI, seeding, all that type of stuff down the road.”

Players understand what is at stake.

“It gives us extra motivation, because we gave up one at home against KU and we lost to Iowa State,” Thomas Gipson said.

“We have just got to come hard in practice.”

• Gipson was at his best early against Texas Tech. He got to the basket with ease and made his first four shots. He only finished with 12 points and five rebounds, but with Weber limiting him to 23 minutes he was productive when he was on the floor.

“I had a few easy slips and was just aggressive on the offensive boards,” Gipson said. “I was getting easy putbacks.”

• K-State didn’t have to deal with the pressure of playing in front of a raucous crowd at United Spirit Arena, but they did encounter breathing problems before tip-off. The Red Raiders incorporate a motorcycle into their pregame festivities, revving the engine after each player is introduced. That left exhaust fumes lingering over the floor for several minutes. K-State players seemed annoyed as they took the court, with Angel Rodriguez waving his hand in front of his face.

• Texas Tech guard Josh Gray was recruited by K-State. He said there were added emotions going against the Wildcats, but they were all positive. Afterward, he exchanged hugs with Weber and his coaching staff.

• Shane Southwell only scored 5 points, but he added seven rebounds and four assists.

• Texas Tech committed a season-low four turnovers.

| Kellis Robinett, krobinett@kcstar.com

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