Hailing from the Atlantic Sun Conference the University of South Carolina Upstate Spartans traveled to Manhattan to take on the Kansas State Wildcats Sunday afternoon. While the Spartans are hardly a household name, they did finish with a 21-13 record last season and made it to the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Invitational Tournament. All that aside, there was little reason to believe that the Spartans would pose much of a challenge for the Wildcats.
Ten minutes into the game, USC Upstate surprisingly held a 12-8 lead and they hung with K-State up until the five minute mark. At that point the Wildcats kicked off a 14-0 run and went into the break with a comfortable 36-20 lead. They started off the second half on a 7-0 run to push their advantage to 23. The Spartans trailed by as much as 27 and didn’t get the deficit under 20 until the final ten seconds of the game. In the end it was a 72-53 victory for Kansas State but they only managed to out rebound their opponent by seven (42-35) and their perimeter shooting continued its lackluster ways.
Rodney McGruder had his best game of the season and led all scorers with 22 points on 8-16 shooting. He also hauled in seven rebounds for the second straight game. Joining Rodney in double-digit scoring land were Thomas Gipson (11), Adrian Diaz (10) and Omari Lawrence (10). In addition to his six points, Nino Williams led the team in rebounds with nine. McGruder’s step forward is certainly a positive sign for the team but on the flip side Angel Rodriguez was busy doing his best impression of a ghost while dealing with a foot injury. He contributed just one point and two assists to go along with two turnovers and a foul in 13 minutes. Jordan Henriquez and Shane Southwell did not play due to minor injuries but both are expected back in time for the next game.
Junior forward Jodd Maxey came off the bench to lead the Spartans in scoring. He finished with 13 points on 6-8 shooting. With 12 points on 4-15 from the floor, junior Torrey Craig was the only other player to crack double figures for USC Upstate. As a team they were just 1-11 on their three point attempts and shot at a 35.7% clip overall.
Kansas State (6-1) will head east to square off against the George Washington Colonels (4-3) on Saturday. After a rough 2011-2012 season that saw them finish with a 10-21 record, the Colonels have lost to Youngstown State, Mount Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame. Their four wins have come against schools with losing records that are a combined 9-20. Junior forward Isaiah Armwood is one of the players to watch. He leads George Washington in both points per game (11.5), rebounds per game (8.5) and is responsible for 15 of the teams 25 blocks on the season.
The USC Upstate Spartans (3-5) will play host to the University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (3-4) on Saturday.