Wildcats edge out Eagles in nail-biter

By Cole Manbeck

Rodney McGruder scored 30 ppoints and Jordan Henriquez added 15 as well as five blocks as Kansas State defeated Southern Mississippi 70-64 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh Thursday.

K-State moved in front to stay midway through the second half after surrendering a 30-27 halftime lead.

McGruder carried K-State through most of the first half, delivering 15 of K-State’s first 23 points. The Wildcats extended their advantage to nine points, 21-12, with about seven minutes left in the half.  But the KSU offense turned sluggish and Neil Watson hit a pair of free throws with four minutes left in the first half to put the Eagles in front 25-23.

Angel Rodriguez’ drive put K-State ahead 29-27 with a minute to play the break, then McGruder added a free throw — his 18th point of the half — for a 30-27 halftime margin.

The Wildcats, 22-10 on the season, advance to the next round to play the winner of a game between top-seeded Syracuse and North Carolina Asheville. That game will be played Saturday, also in Pittsburgh.

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