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Kansas State finally pulls away from Texas Tech

The SportsXchange

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- While they may be on opposite ends of the Big 12 standings, 13th-ranked Kansas State and slumping Texas Tech were in a tight battle for most of Monday's game in Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats were able to pull away for a 75-55 win thanks to key performances from sophomores Thomas Gipson and Nino Williams.

Gipson, starting in place of Jordan Henriquez, finished with a season-high 20 points. Henriquez was in New York attending his grandmother's funeral. Williams contributed 11 points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.

"Great effort by Thomas," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We needed him without (Henriquez) today. We needed him to be consistent, and it's good he didn't get in foul trouble, and then Nino gave us a great lift off the bench."

Kansas State (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) earned its fourth consecutive win, its eighth victory in nine games. Texas Tech (9-17, 2-13) lost its ninth game in a row.

"I thought we had a chance to play well against them; we did that the first half," Texas Tech coach Chris Walker said. "The guys are really trying hard. I'm proud of my team and the way we fought."

The Red Raiders opened the second half with a breakaway layup from freshman Josh Gray that was good for a 32-31 lead, and Texas Tech later moved ahead 44-42 on a Jordan Tolbert jumper with 14:19 to go.

Within the next minute, Williams hit a layup and completed a three-point play that put the Wildcats on top for good. Williams scored the game's next nine points, and his had all 11 of his points in an 11-3 run that gave Kansas State some separation.

"I'm just playing hard," Williams said. "Sometimes you miss shots and sometimes you make them, but I'm just looking to crash the boards."

Weber said, "He got in a nice run. That's been one of our keys to our team. Every day it seems like it's somebody else that steps up. It's hard to stop every guy that we have, and I've said from the beginning, we have eight starters, and all of them can be very, very productive."

The Wildcats extended their run to 24-6, ending all suspense.

Freshman Dusty Hannahs led Texas Tech with 14 points, and junior Jaye Crockett scored 13.

Kansas State outrebounded Texas Tech 41-20.

"They killed us on the glass," Walker said. "We did a really good job of guarding, made them miss, but we didn't get the rebound, and that's really hard for us because our margin of error is so small and it makes it very, very difficult to win.

"Plus, when you turn the ball over, that makes it even worse."

Texas Tech finished the game with 14 total turnovers. Kansas State gave the ball away 12 times.

A dunk from Kansas State sophomore Adrian Diaz in the final seconds capped the win and brought the purple-clad fans in Bramlage Coliseum to their feet.

Despite opening the game on a 12-4 run, the Wildcats could not hold a lead, and the first half ended with Kansas State leading 31-30.

A buzzer-beater shot from Kansas State senior Rodney McGruder enabled the Wildcats to hold an advantage at halftime.

Neither team could find the basket in the early going. Gipson put the first points on the board about three minutes into the game.

The Red Raiders struggled early, and back-to-back dunks by McGruder gave the Wildcats an eight-point lead.

After an 8-3 mini-run from the Red Raiders with 11 minutes left in the first half, the tables were turned as Texas Tech made the Wildcats pay for their offensive mistakes.

Kansas State committed seven turnovers and went only 1-for-6 from behind the arc in the first half.

Seventeen points from Texas Tech's bench helped get the Red Raiders back in the game. Crockett led the Red Raiders with eight first-half points.

Gipson had 10 first-half points.

Kansas State, which entered the night tied for the Big 12 lead with Kansas, plays at Baylor on Saturday. Texas Tech plays host to TCU on Saturday.

"It was a good win," Weber said, "and now we move forward and keep hanging in there, it's all you can do. You've got to worry about yourself and taking care of yourself, and that means going to Baylor on Saturday and go 1-0 again."

NOTES: Kansas State seniors McGruder, Henriquez and Martavious Irving were credited with their 97th career win, making them the winningest class in Kansas State history. ... Gray was named Big 12 rookie of the week after averaging 23 points in two games last week. He became the eighth Red Raider ever to earn the honor. ... With another snow storm predicted to pound the Midwest, the Kansas State athletics department offered students free admission and fans free parking for the game as a winter promotion.

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