Friday, November 27, 2015

Wildcats’ shooting struggles continue

Rodney McGruder got the look he wanted from 3 as time expired. It didn’t fall, and that pretty much sums up the day for Kansas State, which shot 18 percent from 3 in a 63-60 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum.

“If you only have one guy who makes perimeter shots it’s hard to win against a good team,” K-State head coach Frank Martin said.

McGruder went 1-of-6 from 3, while Martavious Irving and Angel Rodriguez each hit one 3. But Will Spradling was 0-of-5 from beyond the arc, and in conference play, the sophomore guard is making just 27 percent from the floor and from 3.

“He’s been a good player for us,” Martin said. “He’s got to figure out a way to get some confidence going. We encourage him to keep shooting, to be who he needs to be, but that’s the challenge you go through with young kids. They’re going to go through difficult moments and they’ve got to learn how to handle that, and keep their focus on the positive things.”

McGruder said the Wildcats got the looks they wanted.

“Oklahoma tried to climb up in us, but we just weren’t hitting shots,” he said. “We had open looks. They didn’t really bother us, we just didn’t hit shots.”

Over the last three games, K-State has made just 7-of-40 (17.5 percent) from beyond the arc, something McGruder said needs to change.

“It’s just something we’ve got to get over,” he said. “Guys have to get their confidence back and just try to get in the gym and get shots up and see the ball go in.”

Kruger returns home

Lon Kruger returned to coach a game in Manhattan for the first time since 1990, but he downplayed his return to his alma mater following Saturday’s win.

“Important but I did not think that much about it,” said Kruger, who led K-State to four straight NCAA tournament appearances as the head coach from 1986-90. “The players are not aware of where I went to school so it is insignificant. But it was nice to see a lot of friends, a lot of faces that are very familiar and very friendly.”

After the game, Oklahoma’s Sam Grooms and Steven Pledger admitted they wanted this game for Kruger just a little bit extra because of it being a place he coached and played at.


Game notes

• Oklahoma had three players finish with four fouls while Andrew Fitzgerald, the Sooners’ second-leading scorer, fouled out late. K-State’s Angel Rodriguez scored 10 points but fouled out on an offensive foul in the final four minutes.

• K-State drew a season-high six charges on Saturday.

• The Wildcats made 15-of-18 (83 percent) from the foul line, a season-best for K-State.

• Pledger’s 30 points tied for the most K-State has allowed to an individual this season, tying Kevin Jones of West Virginia.

• Kruger has faced K-State six times as an opposing coach, winning four of the matchups, including three straight.


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