Kansas City, MO – Rodney McGruder had 24 points and seven rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting from behind the arc as No. 11 Kansas State pulled away late to down Texas, 66-49, on Thursday in Big 12 Conference quarterfinal action.
Angel Rodriguez scored 13 points and dished out five helpers for the Wildcats (26-6), who move on to face Oklahoma State on Friday, after falling to the Cowboys, 76-70, to end the regular season nearly one week ago.
"We knew we had a game. When we saw the big lineup, we thought they would play zone," Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. "I don't think they wanted to chase us, and for the most part it was pretty successful."
Julien Lewis paced Texas with 13 points and Jonathan Holmes donated 10 for the Longhorns (16-17), who shot just 34 percent after winning three straight coming in.
Two Lewis free throws brought Texas within 39-34 just three minutes into the second half, but the contest soon changed.
The Wildcats erupted with a 19-7 flurry as Nino Williams nailed two free throws to make it 58-41 with just over seven minutes remaining. McGruder had 10 points alone during the run which ultimately closed the door on a inconsistent Texas season.
The Longhorns, though, made things interesting with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 11 with 6:19 to play, but Kansas State didn't lose composure. The Wildcats responded by outscoring Texas, 8-2 to close out the contest and secure the victory.
"They're a good team," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "I think they're the best team in the Big 12. I do. I think they're the best team in the Big 12. Now, whether or not they -- if you go back and look, they tie up for the championship and can always go back to an Iowa State game there. But we'll see. They're going to have to -- they're set up to win a tournament like this because they're tough, they're hard nosed. They get their hands on a lot of balls. And you can't help them."
Texas took an early 7-1 lead before Kansas State broke out for a 17-8 spurt -- kicked off with consecutive Rodriguez triples -- to take a 18-15 lead around the midway point of the first half.
The Wildcats stayed hot from behind the arc to close the half as McGruder had two treys and Martavious Irving also hit a three, though the lead at the break was just 34-28.
Both teams only made 11 field goals after 20 minutes of play, as Texas had 26 attempts and Kansas State had 27. Sheldon McClellan and Myck Kabongo didn't find the scoreboard and combined for an 0-for-3 shooting effort.
Kansas State had lost its last two opening-round Big 12 Tournament contests after reaching the title game in 2010 ... Texas' two leading scorers, McClellan and Kabongo, finished with just five and two points, respectively in defeat ... Lewis' trey with 6:19 to play, which closed the gap to 11 points, was the final field goal of the contest for the Longhorns.