When Baylor used a 12-0 run to pull within two points of Kansas State’s lead on Saturday, Angel Rodriguez referred to some terminology of his favorite sport to get the Wildcats going.
K-State coach Bruce Weber said Rodriguez made a boxing reference with 12:38 left in the game, helping the 10th-ranked Wildcats go on a run to put the Bears away 81-61 at Bramlage Coliseum.
With its lead cut to 43-41 after Baylor’s big surge led by nine points from Brady Heslip, K-State came out of a timeout with a 9-2 run of itsown — all on 3-pointers — to push back ahead by nine.
Rodriguez, who had a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists, said he told his teammates what they needed to do during the timeout.
“Right when we got in the huddle, the first thing we said was ‘they punched us, now we’ve got to punch them back,’” said Rodriguez, who also grabbed five rebounds. “We responded as a team. It’s hard when you punch somebody and then they punch you back, it brings you down. We brought them down and they weren’t able to make another run.”
The Wildcats (20-5, 9-3 Big 12) used another run, this time 12-4, to go ahead 64-49 with 6:18 to play. Baylor never recovered.
The Bears (16-9, 7-5) were hurt by 19 turnovers and were outrebounded 33-30, including 16-8 on the offensive boards. The Wildcats scored 22 points off of turnovers, and another 15 on second-chance points.
“I thought Kansas State showed why they are the 10th-ranked team in the nation,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They really dominated and imposed their will. To force us into 19 turnovers — hats off to their defense.”
Led by Rodriguez, four players scored in double figures for the Wildcats, who bounced back after their embarrassing loss at Kansas on Monday night.
Shane Southwell made 6 of 9 shots from behind the arc to finish with 18 points. Jordan Henriquez got into the action, too, finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Rodney McGruder had 10 points.
Weber said the most impressive thing about Rodriguez’s performance, was who he did it against.
The Bears’ leading scorer this season, Pierre Jackson, was contained by the Wildcats’ sophomore point guard. Jackson was held to just seven points — his first game failing to reach double figures all season. Jackson also turned it over five times.
“You got to start with Angel,” Weber said of why his team was so successful. “Double-double, 22 and 10 against one of the best guards, not only in the league, but in the country. I don’t know if he shut him down, but he slowed Jackson up.”
It was the fourth straight game in double figures for Rodriguez, while Southwell reached double-digits scoring for the first time since Jan. 26 at Iowa State.
Southwell said he worked on his shot before the game, and also received a telling message from teammate Thomas Gipson.
“Lately, I haven’t been following through, so Coach told me during shootaround to do one-hand shooting, form shooting — and it worked,” he said. “Thomas, for some reason before the game said, ‘Shane, I feel like you’re going to make shots today.’ I guess he’s my genie.”
Southwell helped the Wildcats separate early with his first points of the game, a 3 to put K-State ahead 7-4. The Bears went on an 8-3 run from there, though, and got out ahead 16-12 before Rodriguez and Southwell led an 11-0 run to put K-State ahead 23-16. K-State was ahead 38-29 at the break.
Southwell’s six 3s were the most he’s made since his 19-point performance against Kansas on Jan. 22 when he made 5 of 11 shots from long distance.
“Shane got us going in the first half with the 3s, and then hit a couple in the second half to really extend the game,” Weber said.
The junior guard was also given the assignment of guarding Baylor’s 7-foot-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin for much of the game. Austin finished with 13 points and six rebounds, but was held to no offensive boards and often shyed away from shots with Southwell on him.
Henriquez scored just two points in the first half, but quietly built up his score total in the second half. McGruder was held to six points in the first half and finished the game just 4 of 10 from the field.
The Wildcats will now have their second straight Monday night game after playing in Lawrence last week against the Jayhawks. K-State’s game against West Virginia Monday in Bramlage Coliseum will be the second of three straight Monday night games.