Rodney McGruder was once again the Wildcats’ top scorer, but Kansas State managed to spread the wealth as four starters scored in double figures during the team’s 69-60 win over Oklahoma Saturday afternoon. With the win, K-State improves to 15-2 on the season and 4-0 in conference play, setting up a huge game on Tuesday when the Jayhawks visit Manhattan. While many expected KU to contend for – and win – the Big 12 title, few predicted that January 22 would feature the last two undefeated teams remaining in league play. KU came from behind to defeat Texas, 64-59, just an hour earlier.
The Wildcats once again failed to eclipse the 70 point mark, but were able to hit the shots that mattered down the stretch in downing an Oklahoma team that flustered the Wildcats during the 2011-12 season, as Lon Kruger’s crew went 2-0 against K-State last year. In addition to the 20 points netted by McGruder, Will Spradling contributed 15 while Angel Rodriguez and Shane Southwell each finished with 12. After shooting an incredible 53 percent three point percentage against TCU, K-State was once again on fire from downtown, hitting 10 of 24 to finish .417 on the night. However, the team was also able to find success from the charity stripe, hitting 15 of 22 free throws thanks to 18 Oklahoma fouls. The Wildcats only managed to hit four of ten free throws against the Horned Frogs.
The best differential for the Wildcats? Turnovers. They were able to force 16 Sooner turnovers, while only coughing up the ball eight times themselves. The worst? Rebounding. The Wildcats came into the game ranked 28th nationally with 40 rebounds per game, but only managed to pull down 24 boards compared to Oklahoma’s 36 rebounds. The Sooners were particularly effective on the offensive end, pulling down 11 offensive rebounds to K-State’s five.
The Jordan Henriquez off the bench experiment continues to find mixed success for the Wildcats. Henriquez was ineffective on the scoring end, hitting only one of three shots and only doling out one assist. However, he continues to be a an imposing presence on defense, collecting three blocks in 20 minutes. Equally important, Henriquez only committed one foul – he’s struggled recently to hold his ground against bulkier opponents. Henriquez now has 28 blocks on the season, and will be expected to bring that intensity when called to keep KU’s 7-0 center Jeff Withey in check.
Kansas State is currently ranked #16 in the nation, and should break into the top 15 when the new rankings are released on Monday. Oklahoma was also undefeated in Big 12 play coming into the game, standing at 3-0 with an overall record of 12-3 and an RPI ranking of 15.