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Bench leads Kansas State to big win over Texas

The SportsXchange

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Desperation to get back on track won out over desperation to find the track.

No. 18 Kansas State snapped its first two-game losing streak of the season and defeated Texas 83-57 to improve to 16-4 (5-2 in Big 12). The Wildcats used balanced scoring to hand the Longhorns (9-11, 1-6) their seventh loss in their last eight games.

"What I told the team today was that you had a team that is having a really good year and lost two in a row, and a team that early in the year was as good a rebounding team as you have in the country, who had been hurt on the boards the last couple of games," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "You know it's going to be a desperate game for them. When you're where we are, every game is a desperate game.

"I told them that the tone would be set in the first five minutes of the game. It was. They (Kansas State) came out and were terrific. We certainly helped them by not fighting their early determination."

Kansas State coach Bruce Weber didn't think it was desperation time for his team, but he agreed that another loss would have been hard to handle.

"I don't know if we were desperate, but we were disappointed (coming in)," he said. "If you lose to Texas, you're probably desperate.

"We were all disappointed after the game at Iowa State (last Saturday). I asked them what they saw after we watched the tape. They knew that they didn't play hard. We didn't do all the things we need to do. All we talked about was challenging (Texas) to play hard."

The 26-point victory was K-State's largest conference victory since the Wildcats defeated Missouri 100-63 on Feb. 16, 2008.

Kansas State was led by Thomas Gipson, who scored 17 points off the bench. It was the first game he hadn't started since the sixth game of the season. But he said proving that he deserved to start was not his primary motivation.

"I think my real motivation was today was my sister's birthday," he said. "She passed about a year ago. I used that as my reason to play hard.

"But I should play like that every day. There's no excuse for the way I've been playing. Coach has told me if I want to play I have to rebound and play defense and do the things I need to do for us to win. I didn't do that against Iowa State, and I committed to myself that I would do that this game."

Gipson was one of seven players to score off the K-State bench, and the bench outscored the starters 45-38. Reserve guard Omari Lawrence added 12 points. Angel Rodriguez was the lone starter in double figures, with 11. The Wildcats are used to spreading around the scoring. But for the first time in 11 games, leading scorer Rodney McGruder did not reach double figures. He was held to seven points. Twelve players scored for the Wildcats.

"It was a great effort by all those guys," Weber said. "We started (Jordan Henriquez). I just felt a change might get Thomas' attention. There's no doubt the bench gave us a great lift, not just the scoring part but energy and defense."

Texas never could get untracked. The Longhorns shot just 41.3 percent from the field, including 26.1 percent in the first half. Sheldon McClellan led the Longhorns with 15 points and Jaylen Bond added 12.

The Longhorns, who carry a 14-year streak of reaching the NCAA tournament, could get no closer than 13 points in the second half after trailing by 19 at halftime.

Kansas State pulled away in the first half, despite getting very little production from McGruder. He scored the first two points for the Wildcats from the free throw line, then picked up two quick fouls with 18:06 left in the half. He did not return to the game in the first half.

But the Wildcats got points from seven other players in building a 38-19 halftime lead. Lawrence led with 10 points. Texas' leading scorer was McClellan, who had 10.

NOTES: K-State junior guard Will Spradling broke his nose midway through the first half trying to take a charge. He returned in the second half. Weber was not sure whether Spradling would miss any time. . . . K-State has held 18 of 20 opponents to fewer than 70 points. ... Three of Kansas State's four losses have come against teams currently ranked in the top seven (No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Kansas and No. 7 Gonzaga). ... Texas is one of the youngest teams in Division I. The Longhorns have two seniors and no juniors on their 14-man roster. The two seniors, Andrew Dick and Sheldon Melchionni, have played in three and two games, respectively. The Longhorns started three freshmen and two sophomores.
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