A buzzer beater from Rodney “Mighty” McGruder saved the game for the Kansas State Wildcats on the road against the Baylor Bears in Waco, Texas. By edging out Baylor, the Wildcats 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.
McGruder has been the leader for the Wildcats all season and tonight he really showed it. When the game was down to the wire, the Wildcats put the ball in the right guy’s hands. 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 ended up with 18 points but the last point was the most important one to keep them tied with Kansas in the Big 12.
McGruder’s game-winner crushed Baylor’s NCAA Tournament hopes. The Bears have only one win against a team ahead of them in the conference standings this season. They will have a chance to redeem themselves and their season when the Kansas Jayhawks come into town for the last regular season game.
This game was really played close from tip off to the final buzzer. Pierre Jackson led Baylor with 18 points and 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. This was a heartbreaking loss for the Bears since they were so close to winning and maybe going into overtime. They played great defense and just let McGurder slip by to make the winning shot.
Kansas State is playing with a passion that comes from their head coach Bruce Webber.
“We talked about we didn’t want to wake up a sleeping bear,” he said. “I hope they find a way to get a couple more wins.”
The one win he is hoping they get is against their nemesis, the Jayhawks. Before they begin hoping that happens, they will need to take care of business against an Oklahoma State Cowboys team. They get the luxury of going into Stillwater in the last game of the regular season to play the Cowboys. That game needs to be on their minds because if the Wildcats lose, Kansas will be the outright Big 12 Champion.