Kansas State grew up fast Thursday.
This is a team built around freshmen core play. At the heart of the team is freshmen point guard Angel Rodriguez who had a sloppy and very forgettable first half in his Big Dance debut, but bounced back in the second half to deliver 7 of his 13 points in the last 2:10 of the game, showing why Kansas State coach, Frank Martin, is so big on the young phenom.
The real point machine for Kansas St. came from Rodney McGruder who ripped the Southern Miss defense apart to the tune of 30 points and defensively chipped in a game-high 4 steals. Eighteen of McGruder’s 30 points came in the first half where he was basically the entire Kansas State offense. Jordan Henriquez chipped in 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots for the most well rounded performance of the night.
Kansas State coach Martin was clearly proud of his players after the game stating, “We’ve elevated our program to one of the better programs in the country. We have been in this thing consistently. I don’t know how many people can claim they’ve been in it four out of five years.”
Martin will tangle with legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim next on his hopeful march to the Final Four. If Kansas State really wants to make its mark on the Big Dance, they need to pull the upset of the tournament and take it to Syracuse while their vulnerable.
#8 Kansas State 70
#9 Southern Miss 64
Other Scores from the East region on Thursday
#1 Syracuse 72
#16 UNC Asheville 65
#5 VANDY 79
#12 Harvard 70
#4 Winsconsin 73
#7 Gonzaga 77
#10 WVU 54
#2 Ohio St. 78
#15 Loyola MD 59
Friday’s East Game to Watch
Syracuse survived a scare against UNC Asheville, but consider this; the last 11 teams to be ranked No. 1 and only win their first round game by single digits have lost their 2nd round game. Syracuse won by 7 Thursday night. There could be an upset brewing if KSU takes it to the Orange this weekend.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS