What a difference a week makes!! Exactly eight days after a rough outing in Seattle against a very good Gonzaga squad, the Kansas State Men’s Basketball team took the floor at the HyVee Wildcat Classic Saturday night facing their third Top 15 opponent of the season a talented Florida Gators squad that Bruce Weber said after the game is very capable of reaching this year’s Final Four.
On paper, this was supposed to a rout in favor of the SEC power, but as we all know the games are played on the hardwood.
Junior guard Will Spradling playing in his home Metropolitan area turned in perhaps his finest outing as a Wildcat with 17 points (13 in the first half on the strength of three three-pointers) and Rodney McGruder added 13 while the Cats held off a last minute threat from the stubborn Gators for a 67-61 victory before 16,303 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
The two teams went back and forth in the early stages of the first half with neither grabbing more than a three-point lead. Spradling extinguished what turned out to be eight-ranked Florida’s last lead of the night with a three-point basket with 7:29 left in the first half. K-State used the momentum to go on a 16-4 run to wrap up the first half and head to the locker room with a 33-23 halftime advantage. The Gators began the second half a little more aggressively and fought back to forge a 41-41 tie on Kenny Boynton’s three-pointer. Then Florida native Martavious Irving drilled a trey of his own giving the Wildcats the lead for good. From there K-State was able to secure the win thanks in part to five huge free throws from Jordan Henriquez who made up for Spradilng’s first misses of the season from the charity stripe.
The victory for K-State was its first in the regular season over a non-conference opponent ranked in the Top 10 since a win over Minnesota at Ahearn Fieldhouse on December 21, 1981.
Kansas State (9-2) will now have a few days off before returning to the court at Bramlage Coliseum for a date with UMKC on December 29. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
For complete highlights, analysis and post-game press conference coverage of the win over Florida visit www.powercatgameday.com
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