MANHATTAN, Kan. — After getting a bit more than they bargained for, the Kansas State Wildcats held on for a 78-69 win over the Texas Southern Cougars on Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Kansas State (8-2, 6-0 home) was slow out of the gate, and found themselves down 19-14 midway through the first half.
After several more lead changes, K-State crawled back to take a 35-31 lead at the half. Wildcats senior guard Rodney McGruder put the team on his back, scoring 14 points in the first half alone. McGruder finished the night with 26 points.
K-State maintained a 10-point cushion for a majority of the second half, but Texas Southern (1-10, 0-8 away) refused to go away. The Cougars narrowed the gap to 72-66 on a three-pointer by junior guard Lawrence Johnson-Danner with 1:14 to play.
McGruder answered with a layup, and junior guard Will Spradling hit four free throws in the last minute of play to help put the game on ice for the Cats.
K-State’s defense took a step back, as they allowed the Cougars to shoot 45.6% from the field, and 46.4% from three-point range. K-State shot well from the field at 56.4%, but were abysmal from three-point range at 15.4%. The Wildcats outrebounded the Cougars 34-23.
K-State sophomore forward Thomas Gipson added a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Raymond Penn led Texas Southern with 24 points and five assists.
K-State takes on the eighth-ranked Florida Gators on Saturday night at Sprint Center.