Rapid Reaction: Kansas St. 75, Missouri 59
January, 7, 2012
By Jason King | ESPN.com
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Here are some quick thoughts from Kansas State's 75-59 victory over previously unbeaten Missouri Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Overview: Rodney McGruder scored 20 points and Will Spradling added 14 to lead Kansas State at the Octagon of Doom. The loss was the first for the sixth-ranked Tigers, who opened the season with 14 straight victories. Missouri -- which has just one starter who stands over 6-foot-6 -- was powerless against a bigger, more physical KSU squad. Kansas State opened the game on a 16-7 scoring run and never looked back. The Wildcats led by as many as 20 points in the first half. Mizzou was outrebounded 36-22.
The victory couldn't have come at a better time for coach Frank Martin's squad, which three days ago lost at Kansas by 18 points. The Wildcats should have loads of momentum heading into Tuesday's home game against undefeated Baylor. Saturday was just the second true road game of the season for Missouri, and it certainly showed. Missouri -- which entered the game leading the nation in field goal percentage -- shot just 32 percent Saturday. And the Tigers were just 7-of-24 (29 percent) from 3-point range.
Star of the game: McGruder was as good as he's been all season -- mainly because he was aggressive and assertive when it came to attacking the lane. Many of his shots came on drives to the basket or on pull-up jumpers in the lane. McGruder has the tendency to drift at times, but if he continues to perform like he did against Missouri, the Wildcats will be in the Big 12 title picture come March.
Key stat: This one was over about 10 minutes into the first half -- mainly because of the Wildcats' huge size advantage. The Cats dominated Missouri down low, where they outscored the Tigers 26-4 in the paint before intermission. Missouri made just five field goals in the first half. Three were 3-pointers. Marcus Denmon scored a team-high 17 points for Mizzou, but made just 5 of 14 field goal attempts.
What the win means for Kansas State: Martin deserves a lot of credit for getting his team ready to play following Wednesday's blowout at KU. The Wildcats were back to their old ways Saturday. Gritty defense, relentless rebounding and good shot selection. Of course, a lot of their success came because their superior size advantage. Missouri's guards had no chance when they drove into the lane. Jordan Henriquez (10 points, eight rebounds, four blocks) played particularly well in the paint. His performance should provide a much-needed boost of confidence heading into the home game against 15-0 Baylor.
What the loss means for Missouri: The Tigers got a huge dose of reality against a team with which it couldn't even compete. Saturday's loss doesn't erase Missouri from the Big 12 title picture or mean the Tigers aren't a top-10 caliber team. But anyone who questioned the them because of their soft nonconference schedule or their lack of size probably felt justified after this game. Missouri is going to have to come up with a better game plan against bigger and stronger teams. And the Tigers have to toughen up on the road. The only other true road game was a struggle at mediocre Old Dominion. You can't win the Big 12 if you can't win games outside of your home gym.
Up next: Missouri plays Iowa State in Ames on Wednesday and will then host Texas and Texas A&M in back-to-back home games. Kansas State will try to knock one of the country's three remaining unbeaten teams when it hosts Baylor on Tuesday. After that it's a road trip to Oklahoma on Saturday.