Funny how consecutive wins over top 10 teams seem to hush all whispers of "NIT."
The Wildcats lost to No. 5 Kansas by just 6 six points on Big Monday last week. The following Saturday, they upset No. 10 Baylor on its home court in a last-second stunner. Then, perhaps most unlikely of all, the unranked bunch from Manhattan pummeled No. 3 Missouri for the second time this season - this time in Columbia.
The last week and a half constituted one of the toughest stretches in program history as the Wildcats played three consecutive games against top 10 opponents. Many thought the grueling portion of the schedule would break Kansas State. Instead, it did the opposite - particularly the opportunity to prove that its dominance over Missouri the first time was no fluke.
Junior guard Rodney McGruder scored 24 points, finally breaking loose from the bonds of a nagging toe injury. Freshman forward Thomas Gipson added 13 points and 3 rebounds, while senior counterpart Jamar Samuels cashed in for 9 points and 11 rebounds.
“It just built our confidence that people were saying we couldn’t do it coming into this game," McGruder said. "It was definitely a big win for us. We’ve got a lot of confidence, and we came into the game thinking, ‘Why not us?’”
Missouri certainly could not find a reason why not. Kansas State's control of the boards translated into more possessions, and the shots finally starting falling for the Wildcats.
A few dramatic Kansas State net numbers to ponder:
- First half FG percentage: 50
- Second half FG percentage: 58.3
- First half 3-pt FG percentage: 50
- Second half FG percentage: 80
- First half FT percentage: 83.3
- Second half FT percentage: 60
*I originally published this post on fabuloussportsbabe.wordpress.com, but the win over Missouri compelled me to enjoy the discussion of the Wildcats on a bigger forum than usual.*