K-State Drops Heart-Breaker to Tijuca, 74-72

Tijuca Club 74, Kansas State 72
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
4 p.m. CST, Aug. 13, 2012

Who We Played:

On paper, Tijuca Club is a 22-and-under Brazilian club team. Officially, here's what happened:

Tijuca Club hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 45 seconds left, as the 22-and-under club team held on to defeat Kansas State, 74-72, in a physically contested game on Monday night.

"Physically contested" is SID code for out of f**king control. You see, in actuality, Tijuca appears to be a barely restrained pack of beasts. Read on to find out why. Or simply consider assistant coach Chris Lowery's tweet:

Never been in a game where I was fearful that my players would get hurt

At least we didn't have to brawl with Tijuca like Georgetown had to do in China last summer...

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Starting Lineup:

  1. Angel Rodriguez
  2. Omari Lawrence
  3. Rodney McGruder
  4. Nino Williams
  5. Jordan Henriquez

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Top Performers:

  • Rodney McGruder: 16 points (team high), 2 rebounds, 3 assists
  • Will Spradling: 12 points, hit two 3-pointers
  • Adrian Diaz: 11 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks (nice line, and his second near-double-double of the trip)
  • Angel Rodriguez: 10 points, 6 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds
  • D.J. Johnson: 9 rebounds (team high — he stepped up after the foul trouble forced him to play more)

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What I Liked:

  • Being punched in the mouth, but fighting back: K-State started the second quarter on a roll with a 7-0 run to take its largest lead at 28-22. However, Tijuca slowly chipped away at the deficit first to tie it at 33-all, then build a 41-38 lead with three consecutive field goals. But the Wildcats closed the gap to 42-41 at the half on a McGruder basket and Williams free throw. McGruder led all scorers in the second quarter with seven points, including a long 3-pointer. That's what we need from our superstar.
  • A coach willing to fight for his players: I can count on one hand the number of times Frank Martin fought for his players and earned even one technical when they were being dicked over — and still have a middle finger left over to direct toward Columbia, S.C. Way to be, Bruce. I think I like this guy.
  • Late heroics: The ejection of Weber sparked the Wildcats, who scored seven straight points to take a 69-68 lead with 3:32 to go in the game. After a basket by Tijuca, Spradling connected on his second 3-pointer to give the squad a 72-70 advantage with 1:35 to play.
  • Preparation for Big 12 play: Our conference is physical, but it'd be hard for any individual game to surpass this one in terms of sheer ridiculousness. If nothing else, our team now is prepped for the annual screw job they'll face on Big Monday in the dusty barn in Lawrence.
  • Surprisingly good statistics: K-State shot 43.4 percent (23 of 53) from the field, including 31.6 percent (6 of 19) from 3-point range, to go with 35 rebounds, 16 assists, six steals and six blocks. The team again was efficient, with 16 assists to 23 made field goals. The Wildcats also connected on 74.2 percent (23 of 31) from the free-throw line.

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What I Didn't Like:

  • Bulls**t officiating: The two teams combined to shoot 78 free throws in the game, including 47 by the home team. The officials also whistled the teams for four technical fouls, including two on Weber, which caused his ejection early in the fourth quarter.
  • Digging an early hole: With the game tied at 8-all in the first quarter, Tijuca took advantage of a K-State technical foul to score 10 of the next 14 points and take its largest lead at 18-12. However, the Wildcats battled back to within one on three occasions, including 22-21 at the end of the quarter, with help from Rodriguez's seven points in the period.
  • Failing to take advantage of the third period: The lead went back and forth in the third quarter, with neither team holding more than a two-point lead before Tijuca scored four of the quarter's last six points to take a 59-55 lead. We've got to come out of halftime with more fervor than that.
  • Starting the fourth quarter poorly: Tijuca scored nine of the first 12 points of the fourth quarter — all from the free-throw line — to grab a 66-60 edge. Not how you want to start off the decisive period.
  • A tough finish: Tijuca was able to seize the lead for the final time with a 3-pointer with 45 seconds to play and a free throw. Spradling missed a late shot to tie or win, then McGruder stole the ball with just seconds left, but his shot fell short. Remind anyone of our final game in Boulder, by any chance?

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What Weber Said:

It was tough, hard-fought loss tonight. It was a foul-plagued game with lots of technicals and double-fouls.

I have been on many international trips and you never know what type of officials you are going to get in these games, and FIBA rules are pretty different. They let us play pretty physical in our first three games and tonight we had five guys foul out, but give our kids credit for coming back.

Both Rodney (McGruder) and Will (Spradling) made some big shots down the stretch, and we took a lead late in the fourth for the first time since the first half. We have to learn to keep our composure, and I didn't go a good job of that tonight, and I need to do better to help our kids. We will rebound and continue to get better.

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Who We Play Next:

K-State will take the day off from basketball on Tuesday to do more sight-seeing and hold a basketball clinic in the ONG Solar Meninos de Luz area of Rio de Janeiro.

The traveling party will tour historic Sugar Loaf Mountain on Wednesday morning, prior to its last game of the trip against Botafogo.

For updates on the game, follow kstate_gameday on Twitter. Also check out the team's travel blog here.

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