Cats shake Coyotes with late run

By Joel Jellison

Kansas State took all the ugliness from Saturday’s win over UMKC, and smothered it with another dose of ugly on Monday afternoon.

For the second straight game, the Wildcats had long stretches of turnovers and missed shots that left a weary feeling amongst the small Bramlage Coliseum crowd.

Behind career days from Shane Southwell and Nino Williams, K-State defeated South Dakota 70-50.

It was the second straight game for the Wildcats without guards Martavious Irving and Angel Rodriguez, and the second straight game that the Wildcats struggled to get much going against a lesser opponent.

Actually, it wasn’t until late in the second half that the Wildcats finally started to click when Jordan Henriquez and Southwell put together a 12-0 run to take a 56-39 lead with 5:17 to play.

K-State started the half leading by 12 points, but the Coyotes quickly cut the deficit to 10, and then used a 9-2 run to pull within six points with 15:13 left in the game.

South Dakota’s Brandon Bos knocked down a 3 with 11:59 to play to bring the Coyotes within six of the lead, and a pair of free throws from Karim Rowson got them to five — which was as close as they would get the rest of the way.

Henriquez opened the ensuing 12-0 run with a basket and a free throw, and then Williams, who finished with a career-high 16 points, was intentionally fouled while going for a layup. He made a pair of free throws to push the lead to 49-39.

Williams said South Dakota’s zone defense allowed him to get a few extra looks.

“The middle of their zone was open, so coach told us that if we cut, we would be open,” he said. “I made some good cuts and I got a couple easy offensive rebounds, so that is pretty much how I scored.”

Southwell scored the next seven points for the Wildcats, making a 3-pointer and then hitting back-to-back jumpers, all in a 55-second span. He finished the game with 12 points and a career-high six assists while trying to play with more intensity after scoring just three points in the first half.

“I had a few open chances to shoot a little pull-up shot in the lane, but I turned it over,” he said. “I just wanted to be a little more aggressive because I was pretty mad at myself at that point.”

With a 61-46 lead with 3:16 to play, the Wildcats put the game away with a 9-0 run that gave them a 24-point lead. The run featured four straight points from Williams, a 3 from Spradling and a bucket from DJ Johnson.

K-State coach Bruce Weber said it felt good to close the game out that way, but the game as a whole left a lot more to be desired.

“At least you can take a deep breath,” he said. “I’m still not happy. I’m not happy with the way we played, but we still won by 20. You learn from it, (and) get better.”

K-State had four players in double figures, including Williams’ and Southwell’s career days, as Rodney McGruder scored 15 and Spradling had 11.

Former Wildcat Juevol Myles scored 13 points for South Dakota, while Rowson led the team with 14 points.

South Dakota coach Dave Boots liked what he saw out of Myles.

“I thought Juevol played pretty well, not only on the offensive end, but defensively because he had five steals,” he said. “I’m sure it was fun for him to compete against those guys.”

McGruder led the Wildcats with nine rebounds as K-State won the rebounding battle 39-24.

Despite snowy conditions outside and the first day of the work week taking its toll on attendance for the afternoon game, the Wildcats got off to a good start with a 24-8 lead with 7:42 to play in the first half.

But the well dried up for the Wildcats after that.

“I thought we got off to a pretty good start, attacked the zone halfway decent, and then did a good job on the defensive end, then, I don’t know, just kind of disconnected,” Weber said. “We threw some balls away, forced some things — there’s no way you should have 17 turnovers.”

They were outscored 10-6 the rest of the half and went nearly four minutes without a field goal before Weber used a timeout to lay into his team for its lackluster effort on the floor.

“I didn’t like the energy and the passion,” he said. “I talked about ‘playing like a top-25 team, have a swagger, have confidence, put people away.’ I thought that stretch, we missed a couple opportunities, got casual.

“That’s where we should have won the game, instead it’s 12 at halftime and they got back in the second half.”

His team responded, but it needed to do more to put the game away in the second half.

Adrian Diaz scored a quick bucket and McGruder followed with a 3 to push the Wildcats ahead by 15. K-State led 30-18 at halftime.

The Wildcats opened the game with a 13-2 run, and followed with an 11-3 run to get their lead out to 24-8.

McGruder led the team with eight points and six rebounds in the first half, while Williams had six.

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