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Thomas Gipson earns start for K-State basketball

Kansas State sophomore big man Thomas Gipson earned his first start of 2012 on Sunday against USC Upstate.

Jared Wickerham

A consistent contributor off the bench last season for the Wildcats, sophomore forward Thomas Gipson was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time in 2012-13 during Sunday's win over USC Upstate.

The 6'7, 270-pound Gipson tied a season-high with 27 minutes in the victory, and bumped his season averages up to 8.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game with arguably his best performance of the year. Though Gipson's ability to play a physical style on the interior makes him a crucial part of Bruce Weber's rotation anyway, the first-year coach did not opt to give his sophomore big man a start until the seventh game of the season.

"We could have started him anytime," Weber said following Sunday's game, reported by KStateSports.com. "Thomas has been pretty productive from the beginning, he has lost weight and he can score inside if he gets his body on someone. With 11 points and seven rebounds that is a pretty good day for him."

Gipson was given a crack at the starting rotation due to back spasms suffered by seven-foot center Jordan Henriquez, who is expected to return for the Wildcats' next game. And while he made a slightly larger impact than he normally might have on Sunday, Gipson told reporters that being among his team's starting five is still not his biggest concern at the moment.

"I do not care about starting," Gipson said. "It is irrelevant. If I do not start, I am still going to come out and play hard."