Jordan Henriquez missed an open dunk attempt that could have given K-State a 10-1 lead. Instead, Southern Mississippi grabbed the rebound and scored. K-State led by three at halftime.
K-State made one three-pointer.Second half
Rodney McGruder hit a three that gave K-State a 51-47 lead. The Wildcats controlled the game from there.
K-State made 10 of 17 shots from the field in the second half.Setting the record
In the process of setting a school record for blocks in a postseason game with six, Jordan Henriquez set a K-State single-season record with 77 blocks. He’s already the Wildcats’ career shot-blocking leader.
“He’s giving us a great defensive presence,” freshman Thomas Gipson said. “The guards trust him because they know when a guy gets by them he will stay back and block the shot. He was telling everyone before the game, ‘Don’t try to take a charge, because I’m going to be right there.’ That’s what he did. He blocked a lot of shots.”
He also scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds. About the only thing he didn’t do well was avoid fouls. He committed four, and had to come out for stretches of the second half.
But when he was in the game, he made his 33 minutes count.
“I was trying to block every shot that came to the rim,” Henriquez said. “Today’s game gave me confidence.”
• One of the most important stretches came in the second half with Henriquez on the bench in foul trouble. K-State was leading 53-51, but Southern Miss seemed ready to make a push.
The Golden Eagles didn’t take advantage, trailing by three when Henriquez returned with 2:25 to go. Gipson and Jamar Samuels were key during that stretch.
“Jamar was real good defensively when Jordan came out,” K-State coach Frank Martin said. “They were going right at him to get him in foul trouble, but Jamar went to the right places. Thomas Gipson, who didn’t play well early in the game, made some free throws and helped us.”
K-State also ran quality halfcourt offense during that stretch and kept the ball away from the Golden Eagles. Gipson was thrilled to contribute.
“My mind-set was just to come in and replace (Jordan) and do whatever I can to keep the lead,” Gipson said. “I got some defensive rebounds, I made the free throws I needed to make. It was good for me. I remained positive and brought everything I had.”
• Martin is 4-0 in NCAA Tournament openers. To be going back to the round of 32 is still a great feeling. “We’ve elevated our program to one of the better programs in the country,” Martin said. “We have been in this thing consistently. I don’t know how many people can claim they’ve been in it four out of five years.”
• McGruder’s big game pushed him over the 1,000-point mark (1,014). His 30 points is a Consol Energy Center record, passing 27 by Scotty Hopson of Tennessee.