Taking the court 24 hours after losing its opening exhibition game of the summer, Kansas State’s basketball team bounced back Saturday and defeated Mogi Das Cruzes 79-72 in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
The Wildcats led from nearly start to finish and picked up a confidence-building victory over an opponent that plays in Brazil’s top professional basketball league.
Coach Bruce Weber changed the starting lineup. Instead of using Martavious Irving, Jordan Henriquez, Thomas Gipson and Will Spradling alongside senior swingman Rodney McGruder, Weber went with Shane Southwell, Nino Williams, Angel Rodriguez and Adrian Diaz.
The move paid off with Diaz leading all scorers with 13 points, and K-State jumping out to a 26-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
K-State stretched that lead to 40-32 by halftime, and used a late run to pull away after Mogi Das Cruzes pulled within 55-53 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Spradling, a junior guard, and Rodriguez, a sophomore guard, also played well. Spradling scored 13 points, and Rodriguez followed up his 14-point effort on Friday with several key assists and rebounds.
“It was another hard-fought game against a veteran team that knows how to play,” Weber said in a statement released by K-State. “Just like yesterday, we jumped out to a good lead then they rallied back. I called a timeout with the scored tied (59-59) in the fourth quarter and told the team we are at the same exact point as yesterday. We need to respond in a different way. It all started with a three-pointer from Angel then Nino made a big steal. We made the other team fall apart. It was a big step for our guys to make plays when it counted.”
The Wildcats have three more games to play in Brazil before returning to Manhattan. The final two will be played in Rio de Janeiro, but they will need to be ready for a quick turnaround before leaving Sao Paolo. They will face Pingdamonhangaba Club at 9 a.m. Sunday.
K-State announced the additions of Drew Speraw as video coordinator and Dustin Yoder as a graduate assistant Saturday.