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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Kansas State 67, Florida 61

By Jason King


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few quick thoughts from Kansas State's 67-61 victory over No. 8 Florida on Saturday.

Overview: His ability to land top-ranked recruits has been questioned, and more than a few folks have called him quirky. But one thing about Bruce Weber is hard to deny.

The man can coach.

That was evident Saturday, when Weber's Kansas State squad pulled one of the biggest upsets of the college basketball season by defeating Florida behind a deafening crowd at the Sprint Center. A team that often seemed out of sync in its first 10 games couldn't have looked more cohesive Saturday. Even though it shot just 41.7 percent against one of the nation's top defenses, K-State limited its turnovers (10), showed patience on offense and got good looks at the basket. The Wildcats missed a lot of shots, but they hit some big ones too.

The victory should provide a huge jolt for the Wildcats (9-2) as they prepare for Big 12 play. It should also enhance the image of Weber, who was hired in Manhattan just weeks after being fired at Illinois, where he spent eight seasons. Weber's 2004-05 squad went 38-2 and lost in the NCAA title game to North Carolina.

Florida, which got 19 points from Patric Young, lost for the second time in three games and fell to 8-2. The Gators lost to Arizona 65-64 last week in Tucson.

Star of the game: Guard Will Spradling scored a season-high 17 points for Kansas State, but it was 6-foot-11 Jordan Henriquez who gave the Wildcats their biggest, and most unexpected, boost. He scored a season-high nine points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked five shots off the bench. Henriquez was a huge factor for the Wildcats last season but has been in the doghouse ever since Weber's arrival. He played a season-high 18 minutes Saturday and was incredibly vocal and spirited on the court -- not to mention effective.

Key stat: Kansas State's outscored Florida 21-7 in bench points and 20-10 from the foul stripe.

Turning point: Florida appeared to have gained momentum after shaving K-State's lead to 50-47 midway through the second half, but a 3-pointer by Wildcats guard Martavious Irving ignited a 7-0 run that gave his team a 10-point bulge. Florida never posed much of a threat after that.

Observations: Kansas State fans are some of the rowdiest in the country. When they're revved up, the Wildcats are incredibly difficult to beat. Even though Saturday's game was in Kansas City -- two hours away from Manhattan -- Kansas State supporters showed up in full force. Nearly all of the 18,000-plus seats at the Sprint Center were filled, making it feel like a true road game for Florida. If this type of support continues at Bramlage Coliseum, the Wildcats could go undefeated in Big 12 home games.

Up next: Florida takes on Air Force, and K-State hosts UMKC.