Haith: K-State tougher, kicked Tiger tail
Sunday, January 8, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — It wasn't just Missouri's first loss of the season that had coach Frank Haith so upset. It was the way in which it happened to the Tigers.
"As a coach, what you really hate is to get your butt kicked," Haith said. "They were tougher. They kicked our butt."
Kansas State ran into surprisingly little resistance in a 75-59 win over the Tigers, leading by at least a dozen for the game's final 27 minutes on Saturday.
For Missouri (14-1, 1-1), it was eye-opening to see an offense that came in averaging a Big 12-best 86.2 points shoot 32.7 percent from the floor.
"We weren't able to make our cuts freely, so we couldn't get guys open," said Tigers guard Marcus Denmon, who led his team with 17 points. "We just weren't as efficient as we needed to be."
Rodney McGruder led K-State (12-2, 1-1 Big 12) with 20 points. Will Spradling had 14 for the Wildcats, and Jordan Henriquez added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Michael Dixon scored 16 and Matt Pressey had 11 for Missouri, which struggled in a conference road atmosphere according to Haith.
"We turned it over on three of our first four possessions," he said. "We don't turn it over much, but we were gambling with passes."
Denmon's second 3-pointers cut K-State's advantage to 16-10 with 12:15 remaining in the half.
But Missouri would not make another field goal for more than eight minutes. That allowed the Wildcats to methodically build their lead. A 6-0 run capped by Thomas Gipson's interior basket made it 30-15 Wildcats with 6:23 before halftime. Spradling made a 3-pointer two minutes later that had K-State leading 38-19.
"Missouri really likes to move the ball, but when we got in their passing lanes, they settled for pick and roll," Spradling said. "And then we had (Henriquez) back there guarding the rim."
K-State led by 21 before two Denmon free throws narrowed Missouri's halftime deficit to 44-25. Missouri was just 5 of 22 from the floor in the half, scoring 12 of its points at the free throw line.
And the Tigers' hopes of making a comeback took a hit when Ricardo Ratliffe, the lone big man in the starting lineup, was called for a technical in the opening minutes of the second half. Ratliffe played just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
"We don't have a lot of physicality in the post already," Haith said. "We need Ricardo's energy."
Missouri finally showed signs of life midway through the second half. The Tigers went on a 7-0 run that included consecutive driving layups, slicing K-State's lead to 52-39 with 11:47 remaining.
K-State coach Frank Martin was so concerned, he called two time-outs in 65 seconds.
But McGruder took over, scoring six points in an 8-0 run. That included a driving runner and a slam, part of McGruder's aggressive mentality Saturday.
"I needed to have a different mindset in this game," McGruder said, "not settle for 3-pointers."
Just like that, the Wildcats led 60-39 with 8:51 remaining, and Haith was now forced to take a time-out.
Both teams were emptying their benches with two minutes remaining, and Martin — who can go beyond gruff — was thrilled. Afterward, he kept referencing K-State's 18-point loss Wednesday at Kansas.
"After you get embarrassed, your team can go one of two ways," he said. "You can come apart at the seams or the seams get tighter. I was proud of these guys tonight."
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