Kansas State was again without the services of Angel Rodriguez and Martavious Irving on Monday afternoon. That however did not prevent the Wildcats from owning the game and winning by a comfortable final of 70-50 over South Dakota. That’s a very good sign after Bruce Weber’s team needed nearly the full 40 minutes on Saturday to put away a plucky UMKC Roos team.
That’s not to suggest that their performance on Monday was flawless, but the game did unfold much differently than their contest over the weekend did. That’s a testament to the game the Roos played as well as the natural “letdown” factor the Wildcats experienced after beating Florida and the absence of their point guard.
Rodney McGruder hit a three pointer just 14 seconds into the game to put his team up 3-0. They would hold the lead the rest of the way and South Dakota never really got themselves back into the game. At the half, the Coyotes had just 18 points and were down by twelve. While they did recover to score 32 in the second half, they shot just 32.7% from the floor, were 2-18 from three and were never closer than five points after the Wildcats got up 7-2 early in the game.
Against the Coyotes, K-State improved it’s shooting in all areas. After firing at a 32.1% clip this weekend, they made exactly half of their 54 attempts from the floor. Their three-point percentage and free-throw percentage also bounced back significantly. The one area however that they took a step back was in the turnover department. The Coyotes racked up 13 steals in the game and forced17 Wildcat turnovers. Obviously this isn’t a huge red flag since Angel was held out of the action and it’s actually surprising they took care of the ball as well as they did over the weekend.
With 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals McGruder had the best stat line for the Wildcats but the most encouraging sign from Monday’s game was his 3-7 effort from beyond the arc. While Rodney had a solid game, it was Nino Williams that led the team in scoring with 16 points on 7-10 shooting. He also added seven rebounds to finish with the team’s second best total in that area. Shane Southwell and Will Spradling each made a pair of threes and wound up with twelve and eleven points respectively.
Junior guard Karim Rowson led the Coyotes with 14 points and tied for the team lead in rebounds with five. Senior Juevol Myles (13) and sophomore Brandon Bos (11) were the only other two players for South Dakota to score in double figures. Myles and Bos also combined to account for nine of the team’s 17 steals in the game. The team was just 2-11 from beyond the arc and it was Bos that was responsible for both of those makes as well.
South Dakota (6-9, 2-1) has a tall in-conference test coming up on Thursday when they face off against North Dakota State (11-3, 2-0).
With the non-conference portion of the schedule now wrapped up, the #25 Wildcats (11-2) have to prepare for #22 Oklahoma State (10-2). The game will take place at Bramlage on Saturday with a 12:30 CT tip-off. The Cowboys have a signature win over then #6 North Carolina State and lost by a single point to #10 Gonzaga on Monday. Le’Bryan Nash (14.4 ppg), Markel Brown (14.2 ppg) and Marcus Smart (13.4 ppg) will lead the attack when the Cowboys take the floor in Manhattan. Nash, a 6’7″ sophomore, and Smart, a 6’4″ freshman guard, are both ultra-talented and will present plenty of problems for the Wildcats defensively if they are on their games.