Entering Saturday’s game against George Washington, Kansas State had yet to play a true road game. Aside from their loss to #4 Michigan in the NIT Season Tip-Off final, the Wildcats also hadn’t really played a program of note. The Colonials figured to give KSU a stiffer test than the bulk of their early schedule had managed and that expectation became reality.
Throughout the entire forty minutes, both team stayed within striking distance and neither was able to build up much of a lead. In the first half, George Washington led by as many as seven and went into the break with a narrow lead (29-27). In the second half it was primarily Kansas State that held the advantage but it was never by a significant margin. In fact they too could not build a lead of more than seven points in the game and the two teams were tied on more than a few occasions. With 13 seconds left on the clock it was a one point game before Will Spradling made two free throws to get the game to the final score of 65-62.
For K-State, Rodney McGruder and Angel Rodriguez combined to go 12-36 from the floor which each of them contributing exactly half that total. Despite struggling with his shot, Rodriguez led all scorers with 17 points. His five assists and three steals were also tops in the game. With 15 points and 11 rebounds, McGruder notched his first double-double of the season and the 6th of his career. Thomas Gipson pulled down a game high 12 rebounds. As a team the Wildcats shot a subpar 35.7% from the floor and were 6-18 from three, but came away with a win thanks to an even 20 offensive rebounds.
George Washington was led by senior forward Dwayne Smith who came off the bench to score 14 points in 17 minutes of play. Lasan Kromah had a 12 point, seven rebound night and freshman Patricio Garino scored ten. It was junior forward Isaiah Armwood, however, that had the stat line of the game. In addition to his 12 points and ten rebounds, Armwood blocked seven shots and didn’t turn the ball over. The Colonials actually shot a better percentage (41.5%) than the Wildcats and held an advantage in both free throw attempts and FT%, but lost the rebounding battle 33-42 and obviously couldn’t keep KSU off the offensive glass.
George Washington (4-5) is slated to tussle with Rutgers (5-2) at their place on Tuesday.
Kansas State (7-1) will face its second real test of the season next Saturday when they travel to Seattle to face off against the #10 Gonzaga Bulldogs (9-1). Set to be played at Key Arena, the game will technically be on a neutral court. Of course, Spokane-based Gonzaga will definitely enjoy a home crowd and atmosphere. While the Bulldogs have to travel 283 miles West from campus to arena, their journey is nothing compared to the 1,819 mile trek the Wildcats have to make. Gonzaga, which just lost it’s first game of the season to #13 Illinois tonight, has plenty of firepower to match up with anyone in the country. They are the top-ranked team in terms of field goal percentage and are ninth in the nation in overall scoring. Four Bulldogs average more than ten points per game and two others average 9.0 ppg despite playing less than 20 minutes each time the team takes the court.