KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jordan Henriquez needed this game.
The Kansas State senior also needed an injection to play this game.
Henriquez, who had been slowed by a bad back in recent weeks, broke out Friday night in the Wildcats’ 68-57 victory over Oklahoma State at the Sprint Center, nearly missing a double-double with eight points, three blocks and a game-high 11 rebounds.
“I thought I had 12 rebounds, but I’ll take 11 too,” said Henriquez, who was 3 of 6 from the field and 2 for 2 at the free-throw line. “I think Rodney (McGruder) stole one or two from me, so maybe that’s why I didn’t have 12. I wanted to crash the boards and do what I could to give my team second-chance scoring opportunities.”
He did just that, collecting five offensive boards alone. That’s significant, because in his previous two games Henriquez had just six total rebounds and only one point — playing a combined 20 minutes.
Henriquez was a non-factor in the last meeting with the Cowboys when K-State lost in Stillwater, Okla., in the regular-season finale. In part, that helped allow Le’Bryan Nash to unload for a game-high 24 points, many in the lane for easy layups and dunks.
But it was a different story Friday, as Nash was held to 11 points — none in the first half — and finished just 2 of 7 from the field.
“Some of the baskets he got late in the second half, and throughout the game really last week, I knew I would be able to contest them and help my team if I was out there,” Henriquez said.” That’s what I was able to do tonight.”
K-State coach Bruce Weber called Henriquez a game-changer.
“The first time we played them at home, he probably had three or four blocks, and when we played there, he wasn’t involved,” Weber said. “So when they did drive, he was a factor tonight. That makes a difference because they had free rein on us last week at their place.”
But getting Henriquez on the court hasn’t been easy. The big man spends timeouts riding a stationary bike to stay loose and tries to avoid sitting on the bench because his back tightens up. Henriquez needed an injection Friday morning to play against Oklahoma State.
“The Last couple games, he hasn’t been able to move at all,” Weber said. “We’re trying to get the muscles to relax. We’ve done massage and we’ve done muscle relaxers, a lot of different things. Today, they took a little bit more of chance on something different and it obviously helped because he was much more mobile.”
Henriquez was active from the start Friday. K-State’s all-time shot blocker had two rebounds, two blocks and two points in the game’s first five minutes against the Cowboys.
“He almost put up a double-double - was tremendous out there,” McGruder said. “He gave it everything he had because he knew it could have been his last Big 12 game. And you can tell with him early when he gets his hands on balls and chases down rebounds early. That’s when you know he’s going to have a good game.”