Georgia Basketball Looks for Signature Road Win Against Kansas State


Both Kansas State and Georgia seek a resume building win when the Bulldog Cagers invade Manhattan, Kansas on New Year’s Eve.

Date: 12/31/2014

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Tipoff Time: 4:00 PM EST

Venue: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kansas

Radio: Georgia Bulldog Sports Network from IMG, in Atlanta WSB (750 AM) and WSBB (95.5 FM). In Athens: WRFC (AM 960)


History: In 1858 Bluemont Central College was chartered by the Territory of Kansas and opened in 1860. In 1863 Bluemont Central College was transferred to the State of Kansas and Kansas State Agricultural College opened with 52 students – half men and half women. In 1867 the first class graduated, consisting of two men and three women.

Conference: Big 12

Coach: Bruce Weber (47-21 at Kansas State, 360-176 overall)  was named head coach in 2012. Prior to arriving at Kansas State, he served nine years (2004-12) as the head coach at Illinois and five years at Southern Illinois. Long associated with Gene Keady, Weber spent 19 years as an assistant coach, first at Western Kentucky (1979-80) and then at Purdue (1980-98). Weber began his coaching career in his hometown of Milwaukee as a volunteer assistant at Madison (Wis.) High School. He then became a varsity assistant at Marquette University (Wis.) High School. Weber recently served on the Men’s Junior National Committee for USA Basketball. He also served as an assistant coach for the USA Team at the World University Games in 1989 and head court coach for the Pan American team trials in 1991.

Last year: Kansas State was 20-13, 8-8 in the Big 12. The Wildcats lost to Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

This year: Shane Southwell and Will Spradling were consistent outside shooters on last year’s team and are big losses for the Wildcats. Southwell scored almost ten points per game, and Spradling added 7.7. Southwell, a 6-6 wing, was also the second best rebounder on the team and totaled the second highest number of assists per game. The top assist earner was Spradling. KSU also lost Omari Lawrence from the backcourt.

Sophomore guard Marcus Foster (6’3” 210) leads the current Wildcat squad with 15 points per game. Senior forward Nino Williams (6’5” 220) scores 13 points a game and senior forward Thomas Gipson (6’7” 265) is scoring 11 points per game. Gipson is not only big but tough and the Wildcats expect him to provide production and stability among the newcomers up front.

This season, the Wildcats add highly regarded freshman forward Malek Harris (6’8” 215) and transfer guard Justin Edwards (6’2″ 210) from Maine. A 2-year starter with the Black Bears, Edwards is a capable scorer and led the America East Conference with 16.7 points per game two years ago. Two other transfers also bring size and depth to the frontcourt, Brandon Bolden (6’11 215) from Georgetown and Stephen Hurt (6’11” 265), a JUCO transfer form Northwest Florida Junior College.

The big question for Kansas State remains at point guard, as the wildcats are thin in the backcourt.

Wildcat starters are sophomore Guard Nigel Johnson (6’1” 185), sophomore Forward Wesley Iwundu (6’7” 205), Foster, Williams and Gipson.

Georgia starters are Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines, Juwan Parker, Marcus Thornton and Nemi Djurisic. There is a wild card on the Georgia roster as the flu affected the play of Djurisic against Seton Hall and prevented Cameron Forte from suiting up against Mercer.

Dec 28, 2014; Manhattan, KS, USA; Kansas State Wildcats guard Marcus Foster (2) makes a layup during a 58-56 loss to the Texas Southern Tigers at Fred Bramlage Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Statistically, Georgia and Kansas State are very similar, with the only edge to Georgia in rebounding and block shots. K-State and the Dawgs have exhibited similar personalities as well, both using poor starts and disorganized offense to deny themselves opportunities for big wins.

With Georgia losing three road games and K-State sitting just a couple of games over .500, the teams also share similar records and a similar need enhance their records heading into conference play.

Kansas State is led in scoring by sophomore guard Foster and senior forward Nino Williams. There is nothing Georgia does better than play defense, ranking 39th nationally in field goal percentage defense. The Dawg trio of Juwan Parker, Kenny Gaines, and Charles Mann should take care of business on defense. Offensively, Georgia must avoid the slow start, receive smart play from Mann and effective free throw shooting from both Mann and Thornton. If Mann earns an assist or two in the opening 10 minutes and Thornton can get to the free throw line and make two of his first three free throws in the first ten minutes, signs are Georgia can roll.

Despite playing some pedestrian ball, especially on the road, Kansas State did beat a good Purdue team at home. But the Wildcats have significant weaknesses, especially in the backcourt, and this game provides an opportunity for the Dawgs to go into Big 12 country and pull a big fat juicy RPI builder off the vine.

Next: Are the Seeds of UGA Basketball Downfall Planted?