PITTSBURGH — For the fourth time in the last five years, Kansas State played in the NCAA tournament. And for the fourth time in those five years, the Wildcats are advancing into the round of 32.
K-State defeated Southern Mississippi 70-64 in the second round of the Big Dance, advancing to play Saturday against the winner of No. 1 seed Syracuse and 16-seed UNC-Asheville.
The Wildcats (22-10) were led by Rodney McGruder, who scored 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Jordan Henriquez added 15 points, nine rebounds and six blocks in 33 minutes of action.
The Golden Eagles (25-9), which at one point in the second half led by five, made just 22-of-60 from the field (36.7 percent), but were able to hang with K-State because of their rebounding and effort from beyond the arc. Southern Miss outrebounded K-State 34-31, including grabbing 13 offensive boards to K-State’s five.
The Golden Eagles made 8-of-23 from 3-point distance, but misfired on eight of their final nine attempts.
K-State shot 21-of-42 (50 percent) from the field, but was just 2-of-12 from 3. The Wildcats outscored Southern Miss 32-18 on points in the paint. while making 26-of-34 from the free-throw line. Southern Miss connected on 12-of-17 from the charity stripe.