By Daniel Hill
The Baylor Bears went into Manhattan, Kan. prepared to take on the No. 10 team in the country, the Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats proved that they were worthy of their lofty ranking as they controlled the game and ended up winning 81-61 in front of a raucous crowd in Fred Bramlage Coliseum.
The Bears started out the game playing sound basketball and even led the Wildcats for a portion of the first half. Kansas State rallied when they were faced with a four-point deficit to Baylor, 16-12. From that point, the Wildcats went on an 11-0 run to take a 23-16 lead over the Bears. The Wildcats 11-0 run put an end to the Bears as they never led from that point on.
At halftime, Kansas State went into the locker room with a nine-point lead, 38-29.
In the second half, Baylor battled back to get within two points of Kansas State, but once the Bears got close, the Wildcats put the pedal to the metal and kept extending their lead. The Bears were trailing 43-32 when junior guard Brady Heslip buried a three, freshman forward Rico Gathers scored three consecutive points off a jumper and a free throw, and then Heslip knocked down another trey to close the Baylor deficit to only two points.
Sensing Baylor’s momentum, Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber called a timeout. On the ensuing possession, sophomore guard Angel Rodriquez silenced the Bears momentum by hitting a clutch three pointer. This spark set off a scoring streak for the Wildcats as three of their next scores were all three pointers to give the Wildcats a commanding 52-43 lead.
Baylor was plagued with turnovers, which has been its Achilles heel all season, by committing a whopping 19 turnovers in the contest. The Bears struggled to establish consistent momentum offensively as senior guard Pierre Jackson had a mere seven points in the entire game.
Senior guard A.J. Walton led the Bears in scoring with 14 points. Freshman center Isaiah Austin recorded 13 points and junior guard Brady Heslip knocked down four treys for 12 points.
The real star of the game was Kansas State’s Rodriguez, who earned a double-double with 22 points and 10 assists. Aside from Rodriquez, the Wildcats had three other players reach the double-digits in scoring. Junior guard Shane Southwell reached 18 points on six three-pointers. Senior guard Rodney McGruder and senior forward Jordan Henriquez each contributed 10 points.
The Bears will next take on the Iowa State Cyclones at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center.