MANHATTAN — Marcus Foster struggled in his college debut, right along with the rest of his Kansas State teammates, so Bruce Weber pulled him aside after a morning shoot-around Wednesday.
“I just told him, ‘Relax. Enjoy it. Worry about what you can control,’” Weber recalled.
Once he hit his first basket, Foster certainly looked at ease.
He went on to hit four 3-pointers and finished with 25 points, helping the Wildcats bounce back from a humiliating loss to Northern Colorado with a 71-63 victory over Oral Roberts.
It was the most points scored by a Kansas State freshman since Michael Beasley had 25 against Texas A&M in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on March 4, 2008.
“Marcus is a good player. We were very fortunate to get him,” Weber said. “We kind of sat back, just laughing, when people didn’t have him in the top 100. We couldn’t figure it out.”
D.J. Johnson added 12 points and Will Spradling 10 for the Wildcats (1-1), who struggled early on against the Golden Eagles (1-1). They finally found their rhythm early in the second half, then made enough plays in the closing minutes to put them away.
Obi Emegano, a transfer from Western Illinois, scored 24 points to lead Oral Roberts. Utah transfer Shawn Glover scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half.
After a poor shooting performance against Northern Colorado, the Wildcats bounced back to shoot 50 percent from the field. They were paced by Foster, their star freshman, who was 9 of 12 and 4 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Give K-State credit, and give Marcus Foster credit,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. “He was terrific. He hit big shots all night long.”
There were once again plenty of whistles as the teams tried to adjust to more-stringent enforcement of hand-checking fouls. Kansas State and Oral Roberts were both in the bonus with more than 10 minutes left in the first half, and the double-bonus early in the second half.
Emegano spent most of the night at the foul line, going 12 for 15.
“With the new rules, that’ll play to any driver, so stay aggressive knowing the refs are going to call it and call it close,” he said. “We try to minimize our jump shots and take it to the cup and try to get a foul or a bucket.”
The Golden Eagles, coming off a season-opening win over Tulsa, roared to a 16-4 advantage midway through the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats didn’t hit a field goal until there was 13:12 left, and had more turnovers (four) than baskets (three) through the first 12 minutes.
Foster finally hit a 3-pointer to end the Golden Eagles’ opening salvo. He hit another 3 moments later, and wound up scoring 10 of his 16 first-half points during a 14-1 spurt that gave Kansas State an 18-17 lead with 7:17 remaining in the first half.
“I just noticed that our team was looking sluggish,” Foster said. “I’m a pretty good scorer, so I took it upon myself to get my team going. It got everybody going.”
D.J. Johnson’s dunk at the buzzer gave the Wildcats a 30-27 lead at the break.
Finally putting some movement into coach Bruce Weber’s motion offense, Kansas State slowly built on its advantage. Shane Southwell hit his first basket with 16:37 left in the game, and then helped the Wildcats score on six consecutive trips down the floor to take a 54-43 lead.
Still, Oral Roberts managed to hang within striking distance.
Glover got hot late in the second half, scoring 10 of the Golden Eagles’ 12 points during one lengthy stretch. And when Spradling missed a pair of foul shots and Nino Williams missed an open shot inside, Oral Roberts had a chance to trim into a 59-53 deficit.
Glover cooled off and missed three straight shots, though, and when Foster came off a pick and buried a 3-pointer from the wing with 3:49 left, the Wildcats had their breathing room.
Oral Roberts made one last charge, closing within 62-57 on Korey Billbury’s 3-pointer with 3:15 left. But Spradling showed some senior resilience by knocking down a pair of foul shots, and then feeding Foster on a run-out for an easy dunk that helped put the game away.
“I thought this was a game I knew we had to play well to win, and I thought with the way we started, it was a great opportunity,” Sutton said, “and we kind of let it slip away.”
Kansas State 71, Oral Roberts 63
ORAL ROBERTS (1-1)
Conley 0-0 1-2 1, Glover 6-17 9-9 21, Jackson 1-3 1-2 3, Emegano 6-11 12-15 24, Billbury 3-8 0-0 7, Singleton 1-3 0-0 2, Word 0-1 0-0 0, Webber 0-4 0-0 0, Kaufman 2-3 0-0 4, Henderson 0-1 1-2 1, Wilson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-51 24-30 63.
KANSAS ST. (1-1)
Southwell 3-7 0-0 7, Iwundu 1-2 1-2 3, D. Johnson 5-7 2-3 12, Foster 9-12 3-4 25, Spradling 1-3 8-12 10, Karapetyan 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 3-5 0-2 6, Lawrence 1-3 1-1 3, N. Johnson 0-6 5-6 5, Rohleder 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-46 20-30 71.
Halftime—Kansas St. 30-27. Three-point goals—Oral Roberts 1-10 (Billbury 1-3, Jackson 0-1, Singleton 0-1, Word 0-1, Glover 0-1, Webber 0-3), Kansas St. 5-11 (Foster 4-5, Southwell 1-2, N. Johnson 0-4). Fouled out—Billbury, Conley. Rebounds—Oral Roberts 30 (Glover 9), Kansas St. 32 (D. Johnson 7). Assists—Oral Roberts 9 (Jackson 4), Kansas St. 17 (N. Johnson, Spradling 5). Total fouls—Oral Roberts 26, Kansas St. 24.