Wildcats use balanced attack in win

By Joshua Kinder

Take your pick — Rodney McGruder, Will Spradling, Angel Rodriguez or maybe Shane Southwell.

Finding a player of the game couldn’t have been easy for the Kansas State coaching staff.

Behind four players in double figures, 16th-ranked K-State dispatched of Oklahoma 69-60 Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum to win its eighth straight game and improve to 4-0 in the Big 12.

McGruder led the way for the Wildcats with a game-high 20 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 4 of 9 from behind the arc. But what Spradling did with his 15 points was equally as important for K-State, which has a big game looming with rival Kansas on Tuesday at home.

The same could be said for Southwell, who scored 11 of his 12 points in the first half, or Rodriguez who scored all 12 of his points in the second half.

“Will did a great job, Angel, Shane,” McGruder said. “We’re a team, not just one person leads us to victory. We do this collectively. I’m proud of everyone who stepped up and played their role.”

Spradling, who had been held to six points or less in the previous three Big 12 games, said the Wildcats’ motion offense allows for anybody to have a big night.

“It lets anybody get into the flow,” he said. “Anybody can get hot and we didn’t have to rely on that one person who was hot at the end of the game because we had so many players who were playing well.”

Saturday was Spradling’s big night. The junior buried back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half to give the Wildcats an early 13-12 lead. Spradling then scored five straight points — including another trey — midway through the second half to keep the Sooners at arm’s length at 44-36.

The Overland Park native said he knew early that it could be a good day.

“At the beginning of the game I really started to understand how they were guarding us,” said Spradling, who finished 5 of 9 from the field with three 3-pointers. “It actually got real easy at the end — I could read them on the screens… It was real easy to get open.”

Southwell, who had a pair of first-half 3-pointers, was pleased to see Spradling’s offense come alive, especially with the matchup against Jayhawks now just two days away.

“When we get more guys going it’s hard to scout for them and hard to prepare for us when we have three or four guys who can come out and have big games,” Southwell said. “It was good for Will’s confidence and good for our team.”

Rodriguez, who had started the game 1 for 10 from the field, finished strong, almost willing the Wildcats over the Sooners down the stretch. Oklahoma trailed by as many as 14 with eight minutes to play, but cut that deficit to six on a 3-pointer with 5:05 remaining. That’s when Rodriguez went to work.

The sophomore scored seven of nine K-State points during a span of three minutes — including his only 3-pointer of the game — to put the Wildcats back out front by nine with 2:41 left.

“We all know Rodney is going to score regardless, but its good to see two, three or four other guys step up and play with him,” Southwell said.

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