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McGruder's three-pointer saves No. 17 Kansas State vs. Baylor

The SportsXchange

WACO, Texas -- Facing a Baylor team that washed out its arena in neon green, it was the No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats that showed they have a brighter March ahead of them.

But the Widlcats needed a buzzer-beater to do it.

Kansas State's Rodney McGruder hit a 3-pointer as time ran out, lifting the Wildcats to a 64-61 victory over Baylor on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.

By edging out Baylor, KSU kept pace with rival Kansas atop the Big 12 standings. Now the Wildcats (24-5, 13-3 Big 12) hope they can win out and have Baylor defeat the Jayhawks next Saturday in Waco.

"We talked about we didn't want to wake up a sleeping bear," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "I hope they find a way to get a couple more wins."

Baylor guard Pierre Jackson made a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 61.

Kansas State guard Shane Southwell then dribbled the clock down from 35 to 7 seconds remaining before the Wildcats called timeout. When Kansas State put the ball back in play, Southwell took the potential game-winner but missed long and the ball landed out of bounds. Baylor took possession and called timeout with 1 second left.

However, Baylor's Jacob Neubert, in the game for the first time to throw a full-court pass, tossed it a little too long as it went out of bounds on the other end. Kansas State regained possession under its own basket, still with 1 second left.

"He throws it to a spot and we weren't able to get there," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "It's never happened before. You play the game to win and if you have a chance you have to take it."

With another chance to make a game-winner, McGruder came off of a screen by Thomas Gipson, took the in-bounds pass from Angel Rodriguez and nailed the shot from the top of the key.

"If it wasn't for Gip's screen, I wouldn't have gotten open," McGruder said. "Coach drew it up for me but it was kind of a read. When I released it, it felt good."

McGruder's game-winner dealt a blow to Baylor's NCAA Tournament hopes. The Bears (17-12, 8-8), currently in sixth in the Big 12, have only one win against a team ahead of them in the conference standings this season.

"It was a great game and a terrible ending for the Baylor Bears," Drew said.

McGruder, who also hit a go-ahead jumper on an assist from Rodriguez with 1:03 remaining, finished with 18 points. Rodriguez scored 13 and dished out eight assists.

Jackson, who led Baylor with 18, made five of six free throws for the Bears' only points of the final two minutes. But he didn't get a chance to take a deciding shot.

Kansas State guards McGruder and Martavious Irving led a first-half surge as the Wildcats erased Baylor's five-point lead.

McGruder finished a fast break with a dunk on an assist from Southwell, then hit a jumper. Irving followed with 3-pointers on back-to-back trips down the floor. That capped a 9-0 run that gave Kansas State a 27-23 advantage with 5:58 left in the first half.

Irving finished with 11 points off the bench for the Wildcats.

Baylor answered with a 6-2 run to finish the half, sparked by Isaiah Austin's put-back dunk and A.J. Walton's jumper in the lane that gave Baylor a narrow, 34-33 lead at intermission.

Kansas State's Irving and Baylor guard Brady Heslip each hit three 3-pointers in the first half as the Bears and Wildcats traded momentum throughout the first 20 minutes.

The Wildcats clamped down on Heslip, holding him to a single point in the second half.

NOTES: Kansas State improved to 6-2 on the road in Big 12 play and 9-0 versus teams from the state of Texas this season. The Wildcats won nonconference games against Lamar, Texas Southern, swept Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor and won at TCU in Big 12 play. ... Baylor fell to 1-5 against ranked opponents this season with the lone win coming at Kentucky on December 1. ... Kansas State starter Will Spradling was limited to five minutes with a bruised sternum. Irving, subbing for Spradling, scored 11 points in 34 minutes of action.
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