Published December 23, 2012
| Sports Network
Kansas City, MO – Will Spradling scored 17 points and Kansas State used a strong second-half run to deal eighth-ranked Florida a 67-61 loss at the Sprint Center.
Spradling added six rebounds and five assists for Kansas State (9-2), which outscored the Gators by an 11-2 count over a five-minute stretch to turn a one-point lead into a 57-47 advantage with 5:20 to play. Rodney McGruder chipped in 13 points and six boards to help the Wildcats post their fourth win in five games.
"That was a heck of an effort by our guys," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "We had to compete for 40 minutes just to give ourselves a chance."
Superior free throw shooting also played a part in Kansas State prevailing. The Wildcats ended the night 20-of-29 from the foul line, while Florida made only 10-of-15 looks from the stripe.
The Gators (8-2) suffered their second setback in three outings following a 7-0 start despite a 19-point, 10-rebound effort from Patric Young. Kenny Boynton and Scottie Wilbekin each recorded 11 points in defeat.
"I thought in the game (the Wildcats) were just a step ahead of us and a step quicker," Florida coach Billy Donovan said.
Florida fought back from an 10-point halftime deficit to forge a 41-41 tie on a Boynton 3-pointer with 13:21 to go, and the Wildcats were clinging to a 46-45 edge after the Gators' Mike Rosario buried a long-range jumper less than three minutes later.
However, Kansas State -- which entered the matchup ranked third nationally in 3-point percentage defense -- clamped down afterward while its offense delivered several clutch shots.
Up 50-47 with under nine minutes to go, Martavious Irving drained a 3-ball to push the Wildcats' lead to six. Spradling and Jordan Henriquez then combined for four made free throws during a Florida cold spell that made it a 10-point differential with under 5 1/2 minutes left.
The Gators would put up six of the next seven points to pull within 58-53 entering the final two minutes, but Shane Southwell knocked down a 3-pointer on Kansas State's next trip to help keep Florida at bay. The Wildcats then preserved the win by hitting 6-of-8 foul shots down the stretch.
Florida held a slim 19-17 lead with 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the first half, but Kansas State ripped off nine consecutive points to kick-start a 16-3 overall surge to move in front.
Spradling netted five points during the burst, which ended when McGruder dropped in 1-of-2 foul shots to put the Wildcats up 33-22 with 55 seconds left. Young would close out the period with a made free throw to provide a 10- point spread at the break.
Florida shot a subpar 30.8 percent (8-of-26) in the first half, but began the second on fire. The Gators outscored Kansas State by a 12-3 count over the initial four minutes to pull within 36-35, and evened the score at 41-41 on Boynton's trey shortly afterward.
The victory was Kansas State's first over a top 10 opponent in non-conference play since a 62-52 triumph over Minnesota on Dec. 21, 1981 ... Florida, which entered the game atop the nation in scoring defense (49.6 ppg), yielded a season-high in points ... The Gators went just 5-of-19 from 3-point range, with Boynton and Rosario combining to go 2-of-9 on their attempts from beyond the arc ... Kansas State has now faced three top 15 teams out of conference for the first time in school history. The Wildcats lost to No. 2 Michigan and No. 14 Gonzaga earlier in the year ... Donovan fell to 1-3 all-time against Kansas State, with the two other losses coming during his tenure at Marshall.