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No. 25 Kansas State outlasts No. 22 Oklahoma State in Big 12 battle

Jan 5, 2013, 3:57 PM EDT

Oklahoma State Kansas State AP

No. 6 Kansas in the best team in the Big 12. Good luck finding someone who wholeheartedly thinks anything different.

But after the Jayhawks, the conference’s waters are murky.

Saturday’s 73-67 win for No. 25 Kansas State over No. 22 Oklahoma State might have helped to clear things up.

Rodney McGruder scored 28 points, bouncing back from a 1-of-6 shooting performance in the first half to carry the Wildcats to victory in the second.

Kansas State trailed by two points at halftime and by as many as four in the second half, but cracks in the Oklahoma State defense allowed the Wildcats to climb back.

Star Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart picked up his second and third fouls in the early minutes of the second half, in part allowing McGruder to change the course of his game Saturday.

McGruder started 6-of-6 from the floor in the second and, paired with Nino Williams off the bench, was too much for Oklahoma State. Williams finished with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor.

As McGruder got things going off the dribble getting to the basket and on the perimeter, Kansas State also worked the ball inside. Williams scored nine straight points over the course of three minutes in the middle of the second half to extend the lead to five points.

Oklahoma State pulled to within two points with under three minutes remaining and tied the game with 2:20 to go, but McGruder struck again.

Drifting out toward the three-point line, McGruder got open for three and knocked it down. On the next possession, he side-stepped off a screen and hit another, extending the lead to five points with 1:43 remaining.

Oklahoma State’s offensive production on Saturday was centered in the backcourt with freshman Marcus Smart and junior Markel Brown. The two combined for 44 of the Cowboys’ 67 points, Smart with 25 and Brown with 19.

Without Smart and Brown, the Cowboys shot just 25 percent (6-of-24) from the field.

Kansas State now has victories over two ranked teams, this Oklahoma State team and then-No. 8 Florida.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_