K-State hosts Big 12 cellar dweller, TCU

(AP) — Powered by Rodney McGruder, Kansas State already handily defeated TCU earlier this season.

The first Big 12 meeting in Manhattan could be just what the Wildcats need to regain a share of the conference lead.

After coming through with last-second heroics in the last game, McGruder looks to keep the ninth-ranked Wildcats rolling to a sixth straight win Tuesday night against the woeful Horned Frogs.

McGruder was the only Wildcat to score in double-digits at TCU on Jan. 16, getting 21 points while sinking 9 of 15 from the floor – 3 of 6 from long range – to spur a 67-54 victory.

The senior guard, the team leader with 14.9 points per game, came up big in the clutch Saturday with a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 64-61 victory at Baylor. Kansas State (24-5, 13-3) got the game-winning opportunity in bizarre fashion after the Bears’ full-court inbounds pass with 1 second remaining went straight out of bounds, leaving that time for the Wildcats to improve to 9-0 against Texas opponents.

“I was thinking of something different. But that goes for being fortunate,” McGruder said of a game that seemed headed for overtime. “It worked out in our favor. That’s all I can say.”

The Wildcats will need a little more to work out in their favor if they are going to emerge as regular-season conference champions. They’re one-half game behind No. 4 Kansas with a game in hand, but have lost both meetings with the Jayhawks.

After pounding Texas Tech 79-42 on Monday, Kansas concludes the regular season at Baylor next Saturday, while Kansas State visits No. 13 Oklahoma State.

It would seem the Wildcats will enter this game with some momentum since they’re 16-1 at home, and have put together a five-game winning streak there and overall.

McGruder, however, hasn’t been much help during the home streak, averaging 11.8 points during the run at Bramlage Coliseum. He’s 4 for 16 from beyond the arc and has been held to 10 points or fewer in four of those contests.

Guard Angel Rodriguez and Forward Thomas Gipson have picked up the scoring slack over that stretch, averaging 16.0 points and 14.0, respectively. Although, they combined for seven points against the Horned Frogs (10-19, 1-15) in January.

Kansas State has won four of six all-time meetings with TCU, which is in its first season in the Big 12. The only previous meeting in Manhattan was a 72-71 defeat in the opening round of the 1999 NIT.

The Horned Frogs have dropped nine of 10 on the road, including all eight conference games while shooting 35.5 percent and averaging 48.8 points. TCU has dropped seven straight since stunning then-No. 5 Kansas on Feb. 6, and lost 72-63 at Texas Tech on Saturday.

Kyan Anderson had 18 points in that contest, and leads the Horned Frogs with 11.6 per game and 3.3 assists. The sophomore guard made just 4 of 11 from the floor to finish with 10 points in the most recent meeting with Kansas State.

Forward Adrick McKinney, averaging 7.7 points, had a season-high 18 with nine rebounds against the Wildcats. He’s totaled 17 points while starting the last three games.