A&M falls to Kansas State on senior night, 76-70
Aggies miss scoring opportunities, fail to stop McGruder
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
Kansas State brushed past Texas A&M 76-70 to spoil the Aggies' senior night and final game of the season at Reed Arena. Guard Rodney McGruder scored 26, including 19 in the first half, and the Wildcats withstood a late A&M run after a slow start left the Aggies playing from behind for most of the game.
Senior forward David Loubeau, appearing in his school-record 65th conference game, turned in eight points in the first half and finished with 14. Senior guard Dash Harris played 34 minutes while compiling a stat line of 11 points, five assists, and a season-high five steals. The two captains, along with senior guards Zack Kinsley and Alex Baird, together totaled 85 career victories overall, fifth all-time among senior classes at Texas A&M.
"I was proud of our seniors Dash and David and Kinsley, I thought they played as hard as they can," head coach Billy Kennedy said. "Unfortunately in this game you have to be productive. When you have opportunities to score, you have to score."
The Aggies botched multiple chances to seize the upper hand throughout the game. On one of Harris' first half swipes, he took to ball to the hoop but couldn't convert the layup. And later in the second half, junior guard Elston Turner missed three consecutive freebies, a strange sight indeed from the 79 percent free-throw shooter.
"Yeah, we did have a lot of opportunities," Harris said. "We were just talking about it in the locker room, it went all the way back to the first half. We missed some chippies, and we thought for a while they just hit some big shots down the stretch."
They nailed their fair share of momentum-swingers, particularly when they cut Kansas State's lead to 66-63 with about three minutes remaining thanks to a 6-0 run capped off by Harris' jumper. But McGruder responded with a clutch long ball and the Wildcats used the charity stripe to their advantage to seal the road win.
"Coach called the play and I was ready," McGruder said. "I knew if I had any space or room I was going to shoot the ball. I just told my teammates that basketball is a game of runs, everyone goes on runs. We just have to stay the course and play.
Turner poured in a game-high 22 points in an 8-for-9 effort, including a perfect 4-for-4 from threeville, but even his sharpshooting proved too little to stifle the hot Wildcats.
"I thought it was the WWE for a little while," head coach Frank Martin said. "We punched them, they lay down on the ropes, they punch us, we lay down. We've matured as a team, we were able to manage that moment and not lose our composure. Rodney had a lot more to do with that than me. We were able to deal with that and then stay the course defensively."
The Aggies' final regular season conference game comes this Saturday at Oklahoma.
"We want to build some momentum going into the Big 12 tournament knowing we'll play Oklahoma in the first round," Harris said. "Our guys are tough. And after Saturday, it's a new season. We can go into the Big 12 tournament and change everything."