AMES, Iowa — Frank Martin didn’t necessarily cry foul, but the Kansas State head coach would have liked to have seen a few more whistled on Iowa State on Tuesday night.
“We lead our conference in free throws attempted,” Martin said. “We don’t do that because we shoot 3-point shots. Coming down the stretch, we kept throwing it in there, never shot a free throw. Every time we took a deep breath on the other side Iowa State shot free throws.”
“Still, you’ve got to buckle down and guard them and we didn’t do that.”
The Wildcats went on to lose to the Cyclones 72-70, and in close games decided late, a questionable call typically sticks out more.
With 1:07 remaining and K-State leading by one, the Wildcats’ Rodney McGruder penetrated into the lane and pulled up for a short jumper. Martin wanted a foul on Iowa State’s Royce White, but there was no whistle. Eighteen seconds later, McGruder was whistled at the other end for a hand-check that sent Chris Babb to the foul line for the game-tying free throw, which eventually turned into the game-winning possession.
“Rodney, bless his soul, he’s earned the right to be a big-time player in this league,” said Martin, who typically comes to the defense of officials when speaking with the media. “He tried to attack that rim and post. For him to not shoot free throws is a joke - just an absolute joke.”
McGruder, who has shot 72 free throws this season, didn’t attempt any shots from the charity stripe against the Cyclones. But there was an effort to get him to the line and others, including Thomas Gipson, who scored 13 points and had seven rebounds in the loss.
“We were trying to go to (Gipson) down the stretch there,” Martin said. “We ran the same plays back-to-back times. Rodney catches it, they grab him nine times, he throws it into Thomas and Thomas scores. Then we ran the same play again. It’s a one-point game, Rodney curled it into the paint, got hit again, but got treated like he’s some inferior kid. Instead of him shooting two free throws to put us up three, he missed the shot and we don’t get the rebound.”
K-State was 7-of-11 from the foul line on Tuesday, while Iowa State finished 17-of-26 from the line.
Wildcats battling the flu
K-State has been battling the flu bug, which began with Thomas Gipson the night before last Saturday’s game against Oklahoma. Since then, it has laid claim to three other Wildcats.
“We’ve got three other guys up all night (on Monday) leaving trash cans full of stuff in their hotel rooms,” Martin said.
Jamar Samuels, Angel Rodriguez and Jordan Henriquez were the three suffering from the sickness. Samuels played 18 minutes, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, while Henriquez saw the floor for just three minutes. Rodriguez played 18 minutes before fouling out on a charge with 3:47 remaining.
• Will Spradling and Rodriguez each had five assists to just one turnover on Tuesday.
• Spradling hit his first 3-pointer since Jan. 18 against Texas.
• Iowa State averages 23.6 3-point attempts per game, but shot just 11 against K-State, making five of them.
• Iowa State was 0-4 when trailing at halftime entering Tuesday, but overcame a 36-29 deficit at the break to win. The Cyclones were 0-5 on the season when trailing with five minutes or less to play, and 1-6 when trailing with less than a minute to play.
• The loss snapped K-State’s five-game winning streak in Ames. Martin is now 7-2 against the Cyclones as the K-State head coach.
• White’s 10 field-goal makes for Iowa State tied a career high.