Kansas State upsets No. 3 Missouri again by double digits

22 Feb

Funny how consecutive wins over top 10 teams seem to hush all whispers of “NIT.”

The Wildcats lost to No. 5 Kansas by just 6 six points on Big Monday last week. The following Saturday, they upset No. 10 Baylor on its home court in a last-second stunner. Then, perhaps most unlikely of all, the unranked bunch from Manhattan pummeled No. 3 Missouri for the second time this season – this time in Columbia.

The last week and a half constituted one of the toughest stretches in program history as the Wildcats played three consecutive games against top 10 opponents. Many thought the grueling portion of the schedule would break Kansas State. Instead, it did the opposite – particularly when given the opportunity to prove that its dominance over Missouri the first time was no fluke.

Junior guard Rodney McGruder scored 24 points, finally breaking loose from the bonds of a nagging toe injury. Freshman forward Thomas Gipson added 13 points and 3 rebounds, while senior counterpart Jamar Samuels cashed in for 9 points and 11 rebounds.

“It just built our confidence that people were saying we couldn’t do it coming into this game,” McGruder said. “It was definitely a big win for us. We’ve got a lot of confidence, and we came into the game thinking, ‘Why not us?’”

Missouri certainly could not find a reason why not. Kansas State’s control of the boards translated into more possessions, and the shots finally starting falling for the Wildcats.

A few dramatic Kansas State net numbers to ponder:

  • First half FG percentage: 50
  • Second half FG percentage: 58.3
  • First half 3-pt FG percentage: 50
  • Second half 3-pt FG percentage: 80
  • First half FT percentage: 83.3
  • Second half FT percentage: 60
That sort of efficiency is hard to defeat. Again, the rebounding of the Wildcats enabled their offense. Kansas State outrebounded Missouri 36 to 30, but more important than the total differential was the fact that 29 of the team’s rebounds came on the defensive glass. In doing this, not only did the Wildcats deny Missouri more shots at the basket, but they also created more offensive opportunities for themselves. Kansas State positioned itself for success, and that is what it got.
To go right along with defensive rebounding, the Wildcats held the Tigers in check fairly well, despite letting them get off to a 4-of-8 start from the 3-point line. For the game, Missouri shot just 38.3 percent from the field and finished at 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. Michael Dixon scored 21 points while Marcus Denmon added 19, and though Phil Pressey shot just 3 of 11 from the field and turned the ball over 6 times, he also had 7 assists.
“We just stepped it up big on defense,” McGruder said. “That’s all that really happened. They made runs but we just had to retaliate every time.”

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