K-State Wins Diamond Head Classic with 77-60 win

Junior Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 28 points against Long Beach State.

Dec. 26, 2011

Final Stats

HONOLULU, Hawai'i - Junior Rodney McGruder scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-11 field goals, as Kansas State captured the third annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic title with a 77-60 win over Long Beach State on Sunday at the Stan Sheriff Center. 

The winners of five in a row, K-State (10-1) earned the 15th regular-season tournament championship in school history and the first since the Wildcats won the Las Vegas Holiday Classic on Dec. 22-23, 2006.  It was also the first tournament title under head coach Frank Martin.

"I'm really proud of my guys tonight, they battled, they stayed the course against a really good team in Long Beach State," said Martin.  "We played so well that the game wasn't in doubt for a long period of time.  I told the team before the game, `Heroes don't win titles, teams do.'  We didn't need a hero, we needed all hands on deck and that's what we got, a total team effort."

McGruder was named the tournament most valuable player, as he led three Wildcats in double figures with a career-best 28 points, his seventh career 20-point game and third this season.  It was his highest point total since scoring 24 against UMKC on Dec. 23, 2010.  He went 10-of-11 from the field, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, to go with 6-of-7 effort from the free throw line.

Senior Jamar Samuels was also selected to the all-tournament, as he completed a solid three-game tournament with 11 points, a team-high eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks in 33 minutes against the 49ers.  Sophomore Will Spradling tied his career-high with 17 points on 4-of-7 field goals, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.  He also had 17 against Baylor last season.   

Long Beach State (7-6) was led by the one-two punch of Larry Anderson and Casper Ware, who totaled 17 points each.  Ware, an All-American candidate, was just 5-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range.  Mike Caffey added eight points and a game-high nine rebounds.

K-State shot 50 percent (26-of-52) from the field against LBSU and connected on 76.9 percent (20-of-26) from the free throw line.  The Wildcats posted a 39-32 edge in rebounding and had just 13 turnovers.  The 49ers connected on 36.8 percent (21-of-57) from the field, including just 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from long range, while they were just 57.1 percent (12-of-21) from the free throw line.

For the third consecutive game, K-State was stellar in the first half, controlling the tempo in building a 40-28 lead at the break.  The Wildcats led by as many as 16 point in the opening half, while connecting on 51.5 percent from the field, including 44.4 percent from 3-point range.  McGruder led all scorers with 12 points on 5-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-2 from long range.

The Wildcats continued to push the lead in the second half, holding a double-digit lead throughout in winning their 10th game in 11 outings this season.  The 49ers twice closed the gap to 10 points, but the team quickly built the lead back up, including to as many as 18 early in the half.  

K-State returns home to the friendly confines of Bramlage Coliseum on New Year's Eve, as the Wildcats play host Howard (4-9) at 1 p.m. on FOX Sports Midwest.  Tickets are still available for as low as $20, while fans can purchase four or more general admission tickets for $15 each with a group rate of $10 each for 12 or more tickets.