FORT WORTH – They’re long and they’re strong, stifling and relentless. Kansas State, appropriately outfitted in black road uniforms, turned out the lights on another team.
The No. 25 Wildcats won their 10th consecutive game and their first true road game by limiting TCU to a season low point total. Kansas State, which won a share of the Big 12 Conference title last season, is 2-0 in league play after a business-like 65-47 victory Tuesday night.
When coach Bruce Weber’s team lost their season opener at home to Northern Colorado and lost three of their first five games, few thought the Wildcats would be heading into the second week in January with a 10-game winning streak.
“This is one of the best defensive teams I’ve ever been on,” said junior forward Thomas Gipson, who scored a game-high 19 points. “We’ve got guys out front putting great pressure on the ball and even though we don’t have a lot of size we contest everything around the rim.”
With Gipson controlling the paint, Marcus Foster patrolled the perimeter. After being named national freshman of the week earlier in the day, Foster had 16 points, making four of his six 3-point attempts. His back-to-back threes with just less than six minutes to play helped seal the deal.
“Contesting shots was an emphasis,” said K-State coach Bruce Weber, whose team plays at Kansas Saturday. “Our ball pressure might not get steals but it wears teams down. They start their offense out by the Big 12 logo instead of the free throw line extended.”
For those who like statistical notes, the number was 50. That was the fewest points TCU (9-5) had scored this season. Kansas State’s winning streak has been fueled by unyielding defense. Eleven of their 14 foes have been held to a season-low point total and 13 of their last 14 foes under their scoring average.
“They’re just solid defensively,” said TCU’s Amric Fields, who scored a team-high 14 points. “Once you beat one guy, they rotate and someone’s there to help. They take charges, they block shots, they contest passes.”
Kansas State struggled early in its first true road game. The Wildcats committed 10 of their 18 turnovers in the first 12 minutes. Despite that charity, TCU was unable to take advantage. The Frogs went 11 minutes with just one field goal and K-State methodically built a 20-10 lead.
"We had shots," said TCU coach Trent Johnson, whose team shot 34.7 percent and missed 14 of its 16 3-point tries. "When the ball doesn't go down it shouldn't affect the way you play on the other end. They had 18 turnovers but it didn't affect the way they played on the other end. What does that say? They're a mentally tough team."
TCU, which is 6-1 this season when out-rebounding its opponent, were pounded on the glass with Kansas State finishing with a 37-21 advantage. Kansas State had its highest shooting percentage of the season both overall (52.5 percent) and from 3-point range (46.7 percent).
“With about six minutes to go, it was still a game and we just stopped competing,” Johnson said. “Our body language wasn’t good. That was very disappointing. We’re a much better team than we showed.”
TCU had two scoring spurts that far from offset its offensive droughts. The second came after intermission and pulled the Frogs to within 36-33 with 13:54 remaining. TCU missed seven of their nine shots as the Wildcats inexorably pulled away.
“Our energy was really good to start the second half,” Fields said. “As the game progressed, our energy slowly and slowly decreased.”
Facing demonic defensive teams tends to cause a power drain.