K-State Uses Big First Half To Bury SIU, 83-58

Freshman Angel Rodriguez scored a season-high 17 points with a season-best 5 3-pointers.

Dec. 22, 2011

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HONOLULU, Hawai'i - Kansas State connected on a season-best 54.3 percent from the field, including 61.9 percent in the first half, as the Wildcats opened the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with an 83-58 win over Southern Illinois on Thursday before 6,751 fans at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Wildcats (8-1) advance to the semifinals of the tournament on Friday, where they will play Texas-El Paso (5-5) at 4 p.m. CST on ESPNU.  The Miners opened the day with a 61-48 victory over Clemson.  It will be the fourth meeting between the two schools, but first since 1977.

K-State became the first team to score more than 65 points against the defensive-minded Southern Illinois Salukis, which entered the game allowing just 58.5 points on 41.5 percent shooting, including 31.3 percent from 3-point range. The 83 points were the second-most this season and the most since scoring 92 against Maryland-Eastern Shore on Nov. 22.

Overall, the Wildcats were strong all-around shooting the basketball. They connected on 25-of-46 (54.3 percent) from the field, including 9-of-14 (64.3 percent) from 3-point range, while also knocking down 24-of-32 (75 percent) free throw attempts. The team also held a 44-31 edge in rebounding. 

The Wildcats used yet another balanced scoring attack to earn its third straight win, while eight players registered at least five points.  The squad also got strong contributions from its bench with a season-best 48 points from its reserves, including its second straight effort of at least 35 points.  In all, 15 of 16 Wildcats saw action in the game, including the first for junior James Watson.  

Freshman Angel Rodriguez followed up his impressive game against Alabama on Sunday with another solid effort pacing four players in double figures with a game-high 17 points.  Rodriguez went 5-of-7 from the field, including a season-best 5-of-6 from 3-point range.  His five 3-pointers are the most by a Wildcat this season.  Senior Jamar Samuels, who just got to Hawai'i on Wednesday afternoon after attending his grandmother's funeral on Tuesday, was solid off the bench with 14 points, including a stellar 10-of-12 effort from the free throw line.  Samuels had missed the three practices coming into the game since leaving on Sunday morning.

Junior Rodney McGruder rebounded from his 2-point effort against the Crimson Tide with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting with six rebounds, while fellow junior Jordan Henriquez had a near double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds to go with two blocks.  Junior Jeremy Jones had his best game as a Wildcat with eight points, five rebounds and four assists (to zero turnovers), while freshman Adrian Diaz was solid with nine points in just nine minutes of action.

The Salukis (3-6), who shot just 29.5 percent from the field and 22.7 from 3-point range, were led by the 10-point efforts of reserves Jeff Early and Justin Bocot.  Leading scorer Mamadou Seck, who was hampered by foul problems for much of the day, finished with just five points in 14 minutes.

K-State played its best first half of the season against SIU, as the Wildcats scored a season-best 48 points on a 61.9 percent shooting, including 66.7 percent from 3-point range.  The team used an early 9-2 run to push the lead to double figures (22-12) at the 11:23 mark.  After SIU cut it to eight points with 6:22 left, the squad used a quick 11-4 run capped by a Rodriguez 3-pointer to advance the lead to 15.  McGruder and Rodriguez led the way with 11 points in the first half.

The Wildcats were uncharacteristic to start the second half, missing six of their first seven shots, as the Salukis cut the lead to 53-40 with 13:32 remaining in the game.  However, that would be the closest they would get the rest of the way, as the lead was pushed back out to 20 and eventually as many as 31 (79-48) with 4:28 to go.