MANHATTAN — Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder led a second-half charge, scoring 13 of his team-high 18 points during that stretch to rally the Wildcats past upset-minded Charleston Southern 72-67 on Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Charleston Southern nailed 5 of 11 3-pointers and rode a 17-2 late run in building a 49-35 halftime lead.
Kansas State was not about to be bitten by the upset bug in the season opener for both teams. It limited the Buccaneers to only three points during the opening 10 minutes of the second half while creeping back into contention.
Jeremy Sexton, who led Charleston Southern with 19 points, nailed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to close the gap to 70-67.
Kansas State’s Will Spradling, who finished with 15 points, sank two free throws for its five-point cushion with 24 seconds left.
Spradling earlier knocked down a jumper for a 64-62 lead with 2:21 left after the Buccaneers had tied the score.
McGruder later hit a jumper from right elbow to push the margin to 66-62.
Jordan Henriquez and Shane Southwell added 11 points apiece for Kansas State, which is back home on Monday night to entertain Loyola Chicago at 7.