COLUMBIA, MO - FEBRUARY 21: Rodney McGruder #22 of the Kansas State Wildcats shoots over Matt Pressey #3 of the Missouri Tigers during the game on February 21, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas State upsets No. 3 Missouri 78-68
By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press 25 minutes ago
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP)—Rodney McGruder scored 24 points and Kansas State upset No. 3 Missouri 78-68 Tuesday night, the Wildcats’ second win this season over the Tigers.
Kansas State (19-8, 8-7 Big 12) led 40-30 at halftime and by 16 points in the second half after a twisting McGruder layup before a late run by Missouri (25-3, 12-3) got the Tigers within 63-60 with six minutes remaining.
Missouri trailed by 4 after two free throws by Michael Dixon with 2:21 left, but Jordan Henriquez answered with an alley-oop dunk following a Tiger timeout. The Wildcats extended the lead on two free throws by Henriquez after a Steve Moore foul on a missed Michael Dixon 3-pointer and built a cushion from the foul line in the final minute.
Thomas Gipson added 13 points for Kansas State, which connected on 53.8 percent of its field goals for the game. The Wildcats were even better in the second half, converting 14 of 24 for 58.3 percent.
Dixon scored 21 and Marcus Denmon added 19 for Missouri. The Tigers’ made just 38.3 percent of their field goal attempts after entering the game hitting more than 50 percent, tops in the Big 12 and third-best nationally.
The K-State loss was Missouri’s first home defeat of the season and just the fourth career loss at Mizzou Arena for the Tigers’ 5-man senior class. It also kept Missouri from the best start in school history. The previous two Missouri teams to start 25-2, in 1990 and 1994 under coach Norm Stewart, also lost.
Kansas State, coming off a one-point weekend win over No. 13 Baylor in Waco, Texas, had already throttled Missouri 75-59 in Manhattan in early January. And while Tuesday night’s game remained in doubt until late, the Wildcats and coach Frank Martin again relied on physical defense and a deeper roster to prevail.
K-State goes 10 deep, with each player averaging at least 10 minutes a game. McGruder entered as the leading scorer at 14.5 points a game, but got strong support from the beefy Gipson, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound freshman who now comes off the bench after eight straight starts. Gipson hit six of seven shots in 19 minutes.
Missouri, by contrast, uses a four-guard starting lineup and a 7-man rotation. The Tigers and coach Frank Haith have succeeded with that lineup, but when reserve forward Steve Moore picked up his second foul late in the first half, Haith had to turn to Andrew Jones, a little-used former football tight end who joined the basketball team early in the season, primarily as a practice player.
Missouri led by six points early in the first half but soon struggled to both make shots and defend Kansas State. The 10-point halftime deficit was their second-largest of the season. Their biggest? Falling behind 44-25 in the first meeting in Manhattan. Missouri made 10 of 29 shots in the first half on Tuesday.
In one uncharacteristically out-of-sync sequence, Henriquez swatted Phil Pressey’s driving layup attempt out of bounds. Ricardo Ratliffe then missed an open 10-foot jumper off the in-bounds play, and after a K-State miss, Denmon bobbled the ball out of bounds on a fast-break. Minutes later, the ball again glanced off his hands on a similar pass by Phil Pressey for another Tiger turnover. In between, English missed two consecutive free throws.
English was also hit with a technical foul late in the first half for slamming the ball to the court in frustration, which sent him to the bench with his third personal foul. He would later foul out and was held to 9 points.
Jamar Samuels added 9 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas State. With his four blocks, all in the first half, Henriquez set a school record for career rejections with 125.
Ratliffe scored 9 points and grabbed 14 rebounds for Missouri but made just 3 of 7 field goals after entering the game making 72.6 percent of his shots, which leads the nation.
The Tigers travel to No. 4 Kansas on Saturday in what could be the final regular season match-up in the historic season rivalry. With the K-State loss, Missouri trails the Jayhawks by a half-game in the conference. A win over Kansas, which plays at Texas A&M on Wednesday, could elevate Missouri back in contention for the Big 12 regular season title and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.