Kansas State senior Rodney McGruder had to make two trips to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday. One to play Oklahoma State and a return trip to talk about it.
McGruder has played a lot of basketball in his 31/2 seasons in Manhattan, Kan., and he's had plenty of afternoons and evenings with high point totals and large contributions for the Wildcats.
But he never scored 26 points in one half before Saturday afternoon in an important home win over Oklahoma State, one of few teams along with the Wildcats thought to be capable of contending with Kansas in the Big 12.
When it was over and McGruder had registered a season-best 28 points, he did an interview on the court with Kansas State's radio affiliate and a television interview. He went back to the locker room, cleaned up and headed home immersed in a conversation with his dad, completely forgetting to attend the Kansas State players' portion of the postgame press conference.
Fortunately, McGruder lives in an apartment nearby and returning to the arena to talk about his big day was no problem. He made 11 of 19 field goal attempts and five of nine 3-point attempts. All five of his 3-pointers game in the second half.
“I had some shots that I could have made in the first half,” McGruder said when he returned. “I just wanted to be a leader. I wanted to step up and be aggressive for my team, and all of the other guys stepped up as well.”
McGruder's 26 second-half points were the most by a Wildcat in one half since Denis Clemente scored 32 in the second half at Texas on Jan. 31, 2009. Clemente finished that game with 44.
McGruder has been integral to the Wildcats success throughout his career. They are 14-2 when he scores 20 or more points. He played in his 90th consecutive game Saturday and made his 81st straight start. Only three Wildcats have started more consecutive games in their careers.
“Obviously, in the second half Rodney got cooking, and that was great for him,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “He just got in one of those zones, and we needed it.”
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