Will Spradling has been impressive all season, but he took his game to a new level Friday night at Friel Court by showing his clutch side late in a 63-58 victory over Washington State.
In front of a deafening student section, the freshman guard made two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to increase a narrow two-point lead to a more comfortable four. Free throws have troubled Kansas State all year, but Spradling stepped into a difficult situation and made the necessary shots under pressure to help his team win its first true road game.
A window into how Spradling kept his cool:
Leading by two points with 23 seconds remaining, K-State inbounded the ball to its best player, Jacob Pullen. Washington State had no interest in fouling the senior guard and trapped him with a double team. Spradling was supposed to be nearby to receive an outlet pass, but was out of position and the Wildcats called timeout. In the ensuing huddle, Frank Martin challenged Spradling.
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“I told him, ‘You don’t want the ball at the end of the game? What’s the problem?’” Martin said. “He said, ‘Are you kidding me? Yes I want it.’ So I said, ‘Go get the ball.’”
He did. K-State ran the same play when it returned to the court with success and got the ball to Spradling. The Cougars saw a freshman with the ball and couldn't foul him fast enough. With 16 seconds remaining, Washington State had the man it wanted at the foul line. But so did K-State.
“I knew he was making them,” Pullen said. (more…)