The No. 18 K-State men’s basketball team (16-4,5-2 Big 12 Conference) was determined to end its two-game losing streak Wednesday night when they played host to a struggling Texas (9-11,1-6 Big 12). Despite early foul trouble that sidelined senior guard Rodney McGruder, K-State jumped off to an early lead. K-State never gave the Longhorns a chance, winning 83-57 on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
“I don’t think that you could ever predict that with (McGruder) out two minutes into the game. Will (Spradling) breaks his nose in the first half and we’re up 19 at half,” said head coach Bruce Weber. “Great effort by Omari (Lawrence), great energy by him and Thomas (Gipson) and just overall good team effort, but there is no doubt that Angel (Rodriguez) had a lot more life.”
It was sophomore forward Thomas Gipson who stepped up big time for the Wildcats with McGruder, the team’s leading scorer, on the bench in foul trouble. Gipson finished with 17 points and 7 rebounds. This was also Gipson’s first time coming off of the bench since K-State played Michigan.
“I should play like that every game, and that’s not really an excuse for how I’ve been playing these past few games,” Gipson said.
This game had a special significance for Gipson who said he had extra motivation, since Wednesday night was also the birthday of his late sister who passed away about a year ago. Gipson honored her with his season high of 17 points.
Junior guard Omari Lawrence had a career night coming off of the bench. With 12 points and 6 rebounds in only 19 minutes, Lawrence provided a big spark in the first half, scoring 10 of K-State’s 38 points.
“Omari has had a great attitude; the coaches have told him that,” Weber said. “It’s hard coming off of the bench. It’s easy being a starter. “
Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez fell just short of a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 8 assists. In the last four games Rodriguez’s assist to turnover ratio is 31-to-4.
“Just trying to stay under control and take what the defense gives me,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in my teammates. They are shooting the ball well and making plays. If I can make a play for them then why not? It’s going well so I just have to continue to do well and continue to be smart.”
Texas joins North Dakota and Alabama Huntsville as the third team to allow the Wildcats to eclipse the 80 point mark. This was the fifth time that Texas has allowed a team to score 80 or more this season.
The Wildcats will next travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma (14-5,5-2 Big 12). It was K-State that handed the Sooners their first Big 12 loss of the season two weeks ago in Bramlage; however, last season, the Wildcats fell to the Sooners on the road.