It wasn’t pretty but Kansas State got the job done at Bramlage Coliseum tonight with a 78-69 win over the SWAC’s Texas Southern Tigers. Despite entering the game with a 1-9 record, the Tigers hung tough and made it a game. Their efforts were buoyed by a baker’s dozen of three point makes. That barrage of threes could have led to an upset of the Wildcats but Kansas State shot at a 56.4% clip, got to the free throw line 22 times – twelve more than the Tigers – and had Rodney McGruder on his game.
Speaking of McGruder, he led all scorers in the game with a season-high 26 points on 12-17 shooting. While Rodney was doing his best to fill up the basket, Thomas Gipson was hard at work putting together his first double-double on the season. Not only did he finish with 14 points (5-7) and 12 rebounds, Gipson also had four blocks, three steals and two assists making tonight’s game his most complete effort since he arrived in Manhattan, Kansas. Thomas and Rodney were the only two Wildcats to finish in double figures but Will Spradling (8), Shane Southwell (8) and Angel Rodriguez (9) all did their part. Weber’s starting five averaged nearly 31 minutes of floor time apiece with Southwell leading the way with 36 minutes. With the starters on the floor for the bulk of the game, the bench wasn’t much of a factor though Jordan Henriquez did score eight on 4-4 shooting in his ten minutes of action.
Texas Southern was led by junior Raymond Penn who scored 24 points largely on the back of a 6-8 effort from the perimeter. Omar Strong and Madarious Gibbs chipped in 13 points each and the trio combined to make all but one of the Tigers 13 threes.
Texas Southern (1-10) will play just their fourth home game on the year Saturday when they host Florida International (3-4).
The Wildcats (8-2) are now set to face off against the #8 Florida Gators (7-1) at the Sprint Center. Saturday’s game will tip-off at 7 pm and it will be senior guard Kenny Boynton leading the attack. Boynton has scored 1,695 points in his career with the Gators thus far and figures to have a realistic shot at breaking the 2,000 point threshold later on in the season.