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LUBBOCK, Texas – Kansas State coach Bruce Weber wasn't entirely enthralled with the way his 13th-ranked Wildcats beat Texas Tech on Tuesday night.
"I thought for the first time in a long time we took some questionable shots, which was disappointing to me," he said. "We were on our toes, not in the places we needed to be, gave them a couple of easy baskets."
Rodney McGruder had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Kansas State to the 68-59 victory that extended the Wildcats' winning streak to three games.
Angel Rodriguez added 13 points and Thomas Gibson had 12 for the Wildcats (18-4, 7-2 Big 12).
McGruder was 6 of 11 from the field, while Rodriguez was 3 of 6 from 3-point range and was flawless in four free throws attempts.
It was rebounding where the Wildcats showed why they're a team to be reckoned with. Kansas State finished with 38 rebounds, 23 defensive, while Texas Tech had a total of 20.
"Coach has been stressing that day in and day out, practice and our past games, since we've been emphasizing that we've really been trying to attack the boards hard," McGruder said.
When it got closer Weber let his players know it.
"We knew we had to step it up and as he would say, 'Get our rear in gear,'" McGruder said. "We really had to focus in and take care of the task at hand."
Jordan Tolbert scored 19 points and Dejan Kravic added 12 for Texas Tech (9-11, 2-7), which finished with four turnovers, its fewest of the season.
For Texas Tech it was its seventh loss in the past eight games after opening Big 12 play with a win at TCU. It was the Red Raiders' third straight loss.
Texas Tech interim coach Chris Walker said Weber had his team prepared.
"They didn't come into the game overlooking us and looking forward to Kansas," he said. "I thought they took us serious and they made plays when they had to. I thought we did a great job of defending them, but when they had to make plays down the stretch they made plays."
Down by eight points to start the second half, Tech used a 5-0 run on a 3-pointer by Ty Nurse and a dunk by Jaye Crockett to pull within 37-34. Its defense got aggressive, forcing three turnovers in the first few minutes.
Weber clearly saw the surge from the Red Raiders and hollered to his team, "You better wake up. They're playing."
His words seemed to sink in and the Wildcats used a 6-0 run, including a 3-pointer and a field goal by Martavious Irving, who finished with 10 points, to go up 48-38 with 12:25 remaining.
Josh Gray hit a jumper for the Red Raiders only to be answered by a 3 from Shane Southwell and a basket by McGruder to put Kansas State up 53-40 about a minute later.
But the Red Raiders didn't relent. Kravic hit a field goal and two free throws and Gray got another field goal before Tolbert hit a jumper and layup to pull them within 58-50 with 7:02 remaining.
A tip-in by Kravic off a miss by Gray cut the deficit to 58-52 before McGruder hit a layup and a free throw to put the Wildcats up 61-52 with less than 6 minutes to play.
A charging foul against Gray on the ensuing possession led to two free throws by Rodriguez to bump the lead to 63-52 with less than 4 1-2 minutes left. The Red Raiders couldn't cut into the deficit anymore.
Texas Tech pulled within three points with about 2:30 remaining in the first half before Will Spradling hit three straight field goals for Kansas State, which led 37-29 at halftime.