WACO, Texas (AP) — Angel Rodriguez is still making plenty of mistakes at Kansas State. The freshman guard is obviously learning and doing a lot to make up for them.
Despite a potentially costly turnover in the final seconds, Rodriguez had 15 points, six assists and a key steal for the Wildcats in their 57-56 win at No. 9 Baylor on Saturday.
“He’s continued to learn, continued to battle. You came here because you’re about the things we’re about,” coach Frank Martin said. “Continue to have confidence. Understand that we have confidence in you. Your teammates love you. It’s going to be all right.”
Rodriguez was coming off a game with seven turnovers and no points in a loss to No. 4 Kansas. And in a home game against Baylor last month, he had two turnovers in a 13-second span late that led to consecutive fastbreak baskets by the Bears that put them ahead to stay.
“Of course, (I) needed to bounce back after that game,” Rodriguez said. “Focused and ready to play. ... Always try to stay positive.”
Pierre Jackson drove around Rodriguez to open Saturday’s game with a layup for Baylor, then had two of his four turnovers in the opening minute.
With 5½ minutes left, Rodriguez missed a shot. Quincy Miller grabbed the rebound, but Rodriguez reached around and tied up the ball, getting credit for a steal with the possession arrow pointing to Kansas State (18-8, 7-7 Big 12).
Rodriguez then had an assist with a lob pass to Jordan Henriquez, who grabbed the ball in the air between defenders and flipped it in while being fouled. Henriquez added the free throw to put the Wildcats ahead 52-51.
Kansas State trailed only one more time, but for only 15 seconds before Henriquez had a dunk with 1:55 left.
Rodriguez had an apparent breakaway layup with 13 seconds left after a turnover by Jackson. But Rodriguez was called for traveling, wiping out the basket and giving the Bears one more chance.
Rodney McGruder also had 15 points for the Wildcats, who had lost their previous two games and play Tuesday at No. 3 Missouri. Henriquez finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
Quincy Acy led Baylor (22-5, 9-5) with 14 points while Brady Heslip had 13. Miller had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
After Rodriguez traveled, Jackson worked the ball up the court for Baylor and got it inside to Miller, who was surrounded as he tried to get off a game-winning shot. Henriquez was credited with a blocked shot as time expired.
“Pierre all year long has created at the end,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “He found Miller, and Miller’s usually efficient from down there. So it was a good pass, a good play, and normally you like your chances with the ball right there at the end of the game.”
The Wildcats held on to win after a wild closing sequence.
“Oh, it’s awesome. These guys, they come in and don’t let things get them down,” Martin said. “Somebody said to me the other day, you don’t seem as animated on the sideline. What should I be animated about? These guys are trying their hearts out.”
After Jamar Samuels missed a 3-pointer for Kansas State, Jackson was scrambling for the rebound and falling out of bounds when he threw the ball off Henriquez to keep possession for Baylor with 2:25 left.
Jackson hit a 3-pointer to put Baylor up 56-55, but the Wildcats quickly regained the lead on the dunk by Henriquez.
On the next Baylor possession, Acy was driving for a layup when he was apparently hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Even though Acy and a defender were sprawled on the court, no foul was called and K-State had the ball.
Acy said he felt like he was pushed by two defenders on the play.
Kansas State came up empty on its next chance, and Jackson got the ball before throwing it to McGruder. He passed ahead to Rodriguez, who took an extra step before going up for his layup.
Kansas State didn’t lead until Rodriguez had a layup and two assists in a 7-0 spurt in a 65-second span by the Wildcats late in the first half.
“I think he controlled the tempo,” Drew said. “He got the ball where it needed to be.”
Baylor’s only other losses this season were to Kansas and Missouri, the Big 12 co-leaders going into Saturday’s games.
The Bears opened the second half with Heslip making three 3-pointers in the first 2:32 — the Bears had none in the first half — to go up 39-35.
Kansas State regained the lead when Acy inadvertently knocked the ball in while he and Samuels were going for a rebound. That put the Wildcats up 41-40 with 14 minutes left and was among 12 lead changes after halftime.
Big 12 Conference
At Ferrell Center
KANSAS ST. 57, No. 9 BAYLOR 56
KANSAS ST. (18-8)
Henriquez 4-7 1-3 9, Samuels 3-10 1-2 9, Rodriguez 7-12 0-0 15, McGruder 6-11 0-0 15, Spradling 2-10 0-0 5, Southwell 0-1 0-0 0, Irving 0-0 0-0 0, Ojeleye 0-0 0-0 0, Gipson 2-4 0-1 4. Totals 24-55 2-6 57.
Jones III 2-6 0-0 4, Acy 5-11 4-4 14, Miller 4-10 4-5 12, Heslip 4-8 2-2 13, Jackson 3-9 2-3 9, Franklin 0-1 0-0 0, Bello 0-0 0-0 0, Walton 0-2 0-0 0, Jefferson 1-2 0-0 2, Jones 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 20-52 12-14 56.
Halftime — Kansas St. 32-28. Three-point goals — Kansas St. 7-20 (McGruder 3-6, Samuels 2-3, Rodriguez 1-3, Spradling 1-7, Southwell 0-1), Baylor 4-13 (Heslip 3-6, Jackson 1-4, Miller 0-1, Jones 0-1, Franklin 0-1). Fouled out — Jones III. Rebounds — Kansas St. 29 (Henriquez 7), Baylor 34 (Miller 11). Assists — Kansas St. 16 (Rodriguez 6), Baylor 13 (Jackson 7). Total fouls — Kansas St. 18, Baylor 12. Technical — Samuels. A — 10,287.