MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State’s Will Spradling knew that undefeated Missouri was going to have its hands full with the Wildcats.
Rodney McGruder scored 20 points to lead No. 23 Kansas State past No. 7 Missouri 75-59 Saturday, and the Wildcats shut down the Tigers’ high-scoring offense.
“I felt like Missouri hadn’t seen a team like us,” Spradling said, “a team that can really get up and pressure you on defense.”
Missouri (14-1, 1-1 Big 12) entered the day as one the nation’s four remaining unbeaten teams but never threatened in the final 30 minutes. Marcus Denmon led the Tigers with 17 points while Michael Dixon added 16.
Missouri entered the day leading the Big 12 in scoring by a wide margin, averaging 86.2 points.
“We weren’t able to make our cuts freely,” Denmon said, “so we couldn’t get guys open.”
Spradling had 14 points for the Wildcats, (12-2, 1-1) who led by at least a dozen points the entire second half.
“Missouri really likes to move the ball, but when we got in their passing lanes, they settled for pick and roll,” Spradling said. “And then we had (Henriquez) back there guarding the rim.”
And the Tigers’ hopes of making a comeback took a hit when Ricardo Ratliffe, the lone big man in the starting lineup, was called for a technical in the opening minutes of the second half. Ratliffe played just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
“We don’t have a lot of physicality in the post already,” Haith said. “We need Ricardo’s energy.”
K-State held Missouri without a field goal for more than eight minutes in the first half, taking its lead from 16-10 to 38-19. The Wildcats led 44-25 at halftime, helped by the Tigers going 5 of 22 from the free throw line in the half.
The Tigers had a 7-0 run midway through the second half to make it 52-39 with 11:47 left.
But McGruder answered for K-State, hitting two free throws and converting a driving floater. After Henriquez coaxed in a left-handed hook, Spradling made a steal and hit McGruder for an alley-oop slam.
“I needed to have a different mindset in this game,” McGruder said, “not settle for 3-pointers.”
Just like that, the Wildcats led 60-39 with 8:51 remaining, and Missouri coach Frank Haith called timeout.
Both teams were emptying their benches with two minutes remaining, and Martin — who can go beyond gruff — was thrilled. Afterward, he kept referencing K-State’s 18-point loss Wednesday at Kansas.
“After you get embarrassed, your team can go one of two ways,” he said. “You can come apart at the seams or the seams get tighter. I was proud of these guys tonight.”
– Associated Press –