Kansas State pulls away from Texas

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 14, 2013
Rodney McGruder scored 24 points and sparked an 11-0 run in the second half, lifting No. 11 Kansas State past Texas 66-49 on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. An all-conference senior who ranks in the top 10 in 14 of Kansas State's career categories, McGruder also had a team-leading seven rebounds as the second-seeded Wildcats (26-6) whipped the Longhorns for the third time this year. Julien Lewis scored 13 points and Jonathan Holmes had 10 for Texas (16-17), which trailed almost the entire game. The Wildcats, who tied No. 7 Kansas for their first regular-season conference title since 1977, will face either No. 14 Oklahoma State or Baylor in the semifinals Friday night. The Wildcats held a 43-36 lead midway through the second half when McGruder's one-handed floater ignited the run that put the game out of reach. A moment later, the 6-4 senior stole the ball at midcourt, drew a foul and then connected on a 3-pointer over the Longhorns' zone defense. D.J. Johnson followed with a dunk and McGruder added a pair of 3-pointers. McGruder's 10 field goals tied the school record for a conference tournament game. Sheldon McClellan and Lewis hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Texas to cut the lead to 58-47, but that was as close as the Longhorns would get. McGruder stole the ball near the Texas basket in the final minute before the break and hit a 3-pointer for a 34-28 halftime lead. A few seconds earlier, D.J. Johnon had tipped in a miss after Jonathan Holmes' three-point play sliced Kansas State's lead to 29-28. Longhorns point guard Myck Kabongo, who scored 24 points in Kansas State's 81-69 victory at Texas, had seven assists but was 0 for 5 from the floor and scored only two points. Since returning from a 23-game NCAA suspension, the 6-1 sophomore had led the Longhorns with nearly 16 points a game. Angel Rodriguez had 13 points and five assists for Kansas State. The Wildcats, who swept two games against Texas in the regular season, fell behind early but seized the lead when the Longhorns turned the ball over on three straight possessions and left Will Spradling all alone for a 3-pointer. The Sprint Center Arena, brimming with purple-clad Kansas State fans, erupted in a loud cheer near the end of the game when popular football coach Bill Snyder was shown on the big electronic board sitting in the stands. The cheers became deafening when the always-reserved Snyder, prompted by the public address announcer, kissed his wife on the cheek. The victory continues what's been a banner sports year for the Wildcats, who produced a Heisman Trophy finalist, conference championships in both football and basketball and garnered Big 12 coach of the year honors for both Snyder and first-year basketball coach Bruce Weber. The Longhorns closed the game on an 8-0 run, including another bucket by McGruder.
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