McGruder powers K-State past Southern MissMar 15, 2012 - 9:44 PM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Rodney McGruder scored 30 points on 11- of-16 shooting, powering Kansas State to a 70-64 win over Southern Miss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Jordan Henriquez supplied 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for the Wildcats (22-10), who are the eighth seed in the East Region and will next face Syracuse on Saturday.
"I thought defensively, I couldn't be prouder of the way we played," said Kansas State head coach Frank Martin. "Our offense got stagnant in certain stretches of the game. But defensively I thought we played well."
Angel Rodriguez contributed 13 points and four assists in the win.
Neil Watson had 16 points to pace Southern Miss (25-9), which was making just its third tourney appearance and first in 21 years. LaShay Page chipped in 15 points, while Darnell Dodson posted a double-double of 14 points -- all coming in the second half -- with 10 rebounds.
Both teams were horrendous shooting the ball early, as a Martavious Irving jumper put K-State up 10-3 nearly eight minutes into the contest.
The Golden Eagles were down 21-12 before grabbing their first lead following a 13-2 run. Watson sank two free throws and Southern Miss led 25-23 with four-plus minutes left in the first half.
K-State closed out the frame on a 7-2 spurt. McGruder, the Wildcats' leading scorer (15.4), exceeded his season average with 18 points over the opening 20 minutes.
Following the break, Southern Miss went up 45-40 on a three-pointer by Dodson. The Wildcats, though, eventually built a seven-point lead as a Thomas Gipson free throw made it 58-51 with 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
The Golden Eagles stayed close and were within 64-61 after a K-State turnover and breakaway layup by Watson with 1:14 left.
Rodriguez sealed the win at the foul line, draining 3-of-4 free throws sandwiched around a missed three-pointer by Dodson from the right corner.
"We just didn't make the plays. We didn't execute the things we needed to do, particularly in critical situations," said Southern Miss head coach Larry Eustachy.
Kansas State is making its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wildcats lost to Wisconsin in the third round last year...Kansas State improved to 4-3 all-time against Southern Miss...The Golden Eagles received their highest-ever seeding this year at No. 9...K-State shot 50 percent from the floor, compared to 36.7 percent for Southern Miss...The Golden Eagles made 8-of-23 three-pointers...The Wildcats outscored Southern Miss 26-12 at the foul line.
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 64
KANSAS STATE: 70
Mar 15 2:55 PM
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 27
KANSAS STATE: 30
Mar 15 1:30 PM
- SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI: 0
KANSAS STATE: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Mar 15 12:42 PM
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