Guard play often decides games in March, and for Kansas State that will be especially true with freshman Marcus Foster leading the way.
Foster was a second-team All-Big 12 selection by the coaches this season and is leading Kansas State with an average of 15.6 points per game.
“Marcus is a great player. He is kind of the key to their team, a leader for their team. He can make a ton of shots (and) defend well,” Kentucky freshman Julius Randle said. “Overall they kind of look to him; especially on the offensive end.”
Kansas State has had some struggles on the offensive end this season ranking 111th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom.com.
Foster has raised his level of play in big games throughout the season, and the Wildcats need the same thing to happen against Kentucky on Friday.
“He (Foster) rises up against the best players. Maybe we have to depend on him for scoring and we find him. We know in those games we need him to step up and the players are smart enough to, one, get him open and get him the ball in scoring position,” Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said. “Then you have seen it, he's made big, big shots in stretches of games and especially big games.”
Foster has led the Wildcats in scoring 16 times this year and has gained confidence as the season has gone along.
“He's terrific. When you watch him he has no fear. He's got the ultimate green light. He is not backing up from anybody. They have got a terrific player and somebody we know,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “He's one of those guys. We played against some of them. They are hard to guard when they have the ultimate green light. (He is) fun to watch. I am not sure he is going to be fun to play against, but he is fun to watch.”
If Foster is on and the K-State offense gets going, then the other thing it will help limit is letting long and athletic Kentucky get out and run where they are at their best.
“We need to score. If we can score the basketball, and he (Foster) is a major part of that, we will keep them out of transition,” Weber said. “That's when they are probably at their best when they can run and beat you down the court.”
Kansas State and Kentucky tip off at 8:40 p.m. on Friday in St. Louis.