MANHATTAN — Kansas State is tired of seeing Kansas rule the Big 12. The Wildcats have a chance to finally end the Jayhawks run atop the conference.
The Wildcats are tied with the Jayhawks with each team having one game left after a 79-68 victory over TCU on Tuesday night. If Kansas State wins and Kansas loses the Wildcats will win their first title since 1977. Kansas holds the tiebreaker between the teams having beaten their rival twice this season.
The Jayhawks close out their regular season at Baylor.
“We’re tired of KU dominating, basically,” Martavious Irving said. “We want to make some changes around here, so that’s what we work toward every day.”
After Tuesday, the Wildcats are one step closer to that goal.
Angel Rodriguez had 21 points and 10 assists, Shane Southwell and Irving both added 15 points, and the Wildcats stayed tied with No. 4 Kansas for first place in the Big 12 with one regular season game to play.
“Chemistry is so important, and I think we have great chemistry in the locker room,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “We’ve built a great relationship, coaches and the players.
“We’ve won 25 because they’ve bought in,” he added. “Now the whole thing — do they want more? That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Kyan Anderson had 29 points for the Horned Frogs (10-20, 1-16), while Devonta Abron added 10.
The Wildcats kept their distance for most of the game, but the Horned Frogs made it interesting early in the second half by slashing into a 42-27 halftime deficit with a 12-2 run.
“We felt like the zone was working for a little bit, and then . they hit big shots,” Anderson said. “We didn’t necessarily want to get out of (the zone) because they were capitalizing on man-to-man too. Just a very tough team.”
Charles Hill Jr., who did not score in the first half, made two free throws to start the spurt for the Horned Frogs. Weber called a timeout after TCU scored eight straight points. But after Rodriguez scored, the Horned Frogs responded with two free throws and another basket, bringing them within 44-39.
A couple of minutes later, a 3 by Rodriguez widened the gap to nine points, but Anderson immediately responded with a 3.
Long-range baskets by Irving and Rodriguez put Kansas State in front 58-48. Anderson followed a slashing layup with a three-point play and cut the deficit to five.
Two straight baskets by Kansas State’s Thomas Gipson and a fastbreak layup by McGruder restored a double-digit lead for the Wildcats, and TCU called a timeout while trailing 64-53 with 7:48 to play.
Kansas State’s ball movement — including 17 baskets on 17 assists in the first half — made life difficult for the Horned Frogs, and TCU coach Trent Johnson credited it before anything else.
“I don’t know if you all realize how nice of a basketball team you have,” Johnson said. “They’re as efficient and play for one another as much as any team I’ve ever been around in a long, long time.”
Kansas State was playing without starter Will Spradling, who was suffering from a bruised sternum. In his absence, four Wildcats played 33 minutes or more, which is unusual for a team that has considerable depth.
“You wish you could have maintained that 15, 17-point lead, now we could have felt a little more comfortable,” Weber said. “We had to get a win, so you had to fight through it.”
Senior Night aside, it was a junior, Southwell, who provided the most consistent offense for Kansas State in the first half. He scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including two 3s that helped Kansas State take a 15-4 lead.
TCU aided the Wildcats’ cause by giving the ball away eight times in the first half, and Kansas State took advantage getting 14 points off turnovers.
Anderson scored 12 of the first 14 points for the Horned Frogs, but he did not get much help. Garlon Green, who scored five points, was the only other TCU player to get more than one field goal in the opening half.
Big 12 Conference
No. 9 Kansas State 79, TCU 68
McKinney 2-8 0-0 4, Green 3-7 3-4 9, Hill Jr. 2-5 4-4 8, Anderson 10-15 4-4 29, Butler Lind 2-4 0-0 4, Crossland 0-1 1-2 1, Dincer 0-0 0-0 0, Abron 3-5 4-8 10, Zurcher 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 23-46 16-22 68.
KANSAS ST. (25-5)
McGruder 6-16 0-0 13, Henriquez 0-1 0-0 0, Southwell 6-8 0-0 15, Irving 4-9 4-5 15, Rodriguez 8-13 0-0 21, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Lawrence 0-0 0-0 0, Diaz 1-1 0-0 2, Schultz 0-0 0-0 0, Meyer 0-0 0-0 0, Gipson 5-5 1-2 11, Orris 0-1 0-0 0, Johnson 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 31-57 5-7 79.
Halftime—Kansas St. 42-27. Three-point goals—TCU 6-13 (Anderson 5-8, Zurcher 1-1, Hill Jr. 0-1, Green 0-3); Kansas St. 12-29 (Rodriguez 5-10, Southwell 3-5, Irving 3-6, McGruder 1-8). Rebounds—TCU 28 (McKinney 10); Kansas St. 23 (Henriquez 5). Assists—TCU 15 (Anderson, McKinney 4); Kansas St. 27 (Rodriguez 10). Total fouls—TCU 14, Kansas St. 19. Fouled Out—None. A—12,528.