Here’s how wild the ending of Kansas State’s 64-61 victory over Baylor was on Saturday at the Ferrell Center: The final buzzer sounded twice before Rodney McGruder hit the game-winning shot everyone has been watching on Sportscenter today.
Officials had to go back and add one second to the clock after Shane Southwell missed badly on a potential game-winner and after Baylor’s Jacob Neubert air-mailed everyone with a baseball-style pass that ended up giving the ball back to K-State.
The rest is history. Angel Rodriguez found Rodney McGruder wide open behind the three-point line and he made a clutch shot that keeps K-State in a first-place tie with Kansas in the Big 12 standings. Both teams have two games to play, but with Kansas hosting Texas Tech and K-State hosting TCU midweek the conference title race should all come down to Saturday. The Jayhawks are at Baylor. The Wildcats are at Oklahoma State.
It will be an exciting day of basketball. Until then, let’s look back at K-State’s exciting win at Baylor in another edition of Player Ratings:
Rodney McGruder – 8: Had McGruder knocked down a few more open shots, he could have easily scored 30+ points. The senior wing continually got away from Pierre Jackson and found open looks, he simply didn’t make them early. But he made the one that mattered most, lifting K-State to a key victory. He missed four of five three-pointers, but the one he made won the game. As long as he stays aggressive and keeps getting open, the mega-point games will come.
Last game: 7.5. Average: 8.1.
Martavious Irving – 7.75: I could tell Irving was in for a big game before he stepped onto the court. In the opening moments, when he watched from the bench, he motivated Jordan Henriquez with some confident words. After watching Henriquez block Baylor center Isaiah Austin, he yelled out, “He’s soft. You got this. He’s soft.” Austin heard Irving and stared at K-State’s bench, but Irving kept repeating “He’s soft. He’s soft.” Then Irving came into the game and scored 11 points in 34 minutes. His main contribution, though, came on defense. He made life difficult on Jackson, and played an important role with Will Spradling unable to play in the second half. Irving has struggled lately. This was a nice bounce-back effort.
Last game: 3. Average: 6.1.
Angel Rodriguez – 7.5: He wasn’t without mistakes. It seemed like Rodriguez forgot Baylor played a zone defense at times and tried to make passes through holes that weren’t really there. But he made some big shots and finished with 13 points and eight assists and never backed down. He also found McGruder on the game’s final play. His production out-weighed his stats.
Last game: 8. Average: 7.5.
Jordan Henriquez — 7: It might be happening again. The senior forward has played significantly better basketball of late, and has twice performed well against Baylor. He had eight points and nine rebounds on Saturday and seems to be regaining his alley-oop connection with Rodriguez.
Last game: N/A. Average: 5.8.
Shane Southwell – 5.5: Eight points, five rebounds and three assists is decent. Not making any big mistakes is better. But Southwell seemed to fade at inopportune times, and his attempt at a game-winner was way off mark. Not a terrible game, but he could have done much more.
Last game: 5.5. Average: 7.1.
Thomas Gipson – 4.5: Gipson hasn’t played well in two matchups against his long-lost brother, Rico Gathers (seriously, they have the same body type). He scored four points and grabbed five rebounds on Saturday. He could have done more, but slow reactions under the basket limited his production.
Last game: 9.5. Average: 6.1.
D.J. Johnson — 4: Made a basket, grabbed two rebounds, had one silly turnover.
Last game: 3. Average: N/A.
Nino Williams — 3: It seems like Williams only has two settings: Hot and Cold. He was cold Saturday, going scoreless in 5 minutes.
Last game: 9. Average: N/A.
Omari Lawrence – 3: A typical Omari Lawrence game.
Last game: 5. Average: N/A.
Will Spradling – 1: He tried to play with a bruised sternum, but only lasted 5 minutes. He didn’t play well and was noticeably in pain. Good decision by Weber to bench him, especially the way Irving played in his place.
Last game: 5. Average: 6.1.