Wildcats Second Half Defense Smothers Cyclones, 79-70

Senior Rodney McGruder

Feb. 9, 2013

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Senior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Angel Rodriguez paved the way for the Wildcats, scoring a combined 42 points leading K-State to a 79-70 victory over Iowa State to take possession of first place in the Big 12 Conference standings.

McGruder led all scorers with 22 points, going 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 from behind the arc. It is the 19th time in his career he has scored 20 or more points, and K-State is 17-2 in those contests. Rodriguez hit a career-high 20 points, dished out three assists and went a perfect 7-of-7 from the charity stripe. The last time K-State had two players score 20-plus points in the same game was at Texas on Feb. 28, 2011, when McGruder scored 22 and Jacob Pullen added 20.

With this win, K-State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12) claims the top spot on the Big 12 leaderboard, one game ahead of Kansas and Oklahoma State with 7-3 conference records each.

The Wildcats started the first half off hot going on an 11-2 run, but the Cyclones (16-7 6-4 Big 12) came right back with a 16-2 run to lead 28-22. K-State finally halted the Iowa State scoring drive with back-to-back 3-pointers from McGruder and Shane Southwell. A pair of Martavious Irving free throws put the Wildcats back on top 29-28. It was back-and-forth basketball in the final minutes of the half, but K-State managed to claim the lead 33-32 at the break.

The Wildcats opened up the second-half with an old-fashioned three-point play from McGruder, and a Will Spradling trey put the Wildcats up by seven. The Cyclones answered right back with a quick five points from Tyrus McGee. McGee had the hot hand for the Cyclones scoring 11 points in three minutes, nine of which came from behind-the-arc.

A Rodriguez layup gave the Wildcats their first double-digit lead of the game with 6:13 to play. K-State then extended its lead to as many as 14. The Cyclones would not quit coming within seven points with 1:33 to play, but a pair of free throws from Rodriguez put K-State up 74-65 to secure the victory. The Wildcats went on to win it 79-70.

-State scored 20 second chance points thanks to 12 offensive rebounds, nine of which came in the second half. Thomas Gipson also had a solid second half grabbing seven rebounds, scoring 11 points and knocking down a perfect 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

The Wildcat defense was strong on the night forcing Iowa State into 20 turnovers, marking a new season-high in conference play. Both teams had 10 turnovers in the first half, and Iowa State led poinst off turnovers the category at halftime 12-11, but a tough defensive effort in the second half gave the Wildcats a 27-13 advantage for the game after winning the second half 16-1 with only four turnovers. It is the third time this season the Wildcats have forced 20 or more turnovers.

K-State connected on 51 percent (26-of-51) from the field and 50 percent (9-of-18) from deep. Iowa State went 12-of-27 from behind the arc. The Cyclones' 70 points were well below their season average of 78.7.

Kansas State heads east to Lawrence, Kan., on Monday to face the Kansas Jayhawks (19-4, 7-3 Big 12). The game will be broadcasted on ESPN for Big Monday at 8 p.m.

A limited number of single-game tickets are still available for $40 for general admission seating and can be purchased online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets or by phone at (800) 221-CATS.