WASHINGTON, D.C. — In Kansas State’s first true road game of the season at George Washington, the Wildcats clanked early and often in the first half, ended shooting less than 36 percent for the game. Fortunately, they also grabbed 24 offensive rebounds and combined with Angel Rodriquez’s second half scoring fueled a 65-62 victory.
"I’ll tell you one thing," K-State coach Bruce Weber said after the Wildcats improved to 7-1. "I’d love to make some shots so we haven’t so many offensive (rebounding) opportunities. Hopefully, that will come as it goes, but we got to continue to use that as a strength."
Another strength for the Wildcats was Rodriquez’s consistent second-half penetration. Following a dismal start — he missed seven of eight field goal attempts — the sophomore guard scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, including five inside the final 1:46.
Playing in front of around 60 friends and family, D.C. native Rodney McGruder finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
K-State also played inside a raucous Smith Center as the Colonials (4-5) hosted their first BCS program since the 2009-10 season. Last season the Wildcats hosted and defeated George Washington 69-56. The Colonials play in the Atlantic 10.
After the Wildcats trailed by as many as seven before halftime, they led 44-37 following a 15-4 run early in the second half. The Colonials bounded back with a 13-4 run, going ahead 50-48 on Dwayne Smith’s 3-point play with 9:03 remaining, setting up the back-and-forth finish.
"As a coach you know that you’re walking into a tough environment," Weber said. "I’m not sure the kids understood it. To our guys credit, they hung in there we survived the first half, had a great run to start the second half and then even survived another run by then."
They survived shooting 31.6 percent in the first half by working the offensive glass; K-State’s first three baskets of the game all came on putbacks by Nino Williams.
McGruder scored 12 before halftime.
"It’s just great, having the opportunity to play in front of a lot family and friends and to do right in the heart of Washington, D.C.," McGruder said. "I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity."
For the game, the Wildcats finished at 35.7 percent (25 of 70), but held a 46-36 rebounding advantage with Thomas Gipson grabbing 12.
Isaiah Armwood had 12 points, 10 rebounds and a havoc-causing seven blocks for the Colonials while Smith had 14 points.
"I thought our defense was terrific," George Washington coach Mike Lonergan said. "If you told me we’re going to hold them to 35 percent shooting I thought we could win the game. But the killer was the 24 offensive rebounds."
Rodriquez’s second half prowess also destroyed the Colonials.
Williams’ putback with 3:18 remaining put the Wildcats ahead for good. On their next possession — which included another offensive rebound — Rodriguez generated points by shrewdly taking advantage of his previous driving forays. With K-State leading 58-57, he wound up being fouled while attempting a 3-pointer then knocked down all three free throws with 1:46 left.
"Shot clock was going down and I felt like (the defender) was expecting me to drive cause I was driving constantly," Rodriquez said. "I was fortunate to get to the free throw line and make my free throws."
After Armwood made 3 of 4 free throws, Rodriguez sought out another driving opportunity. With his defender assuming the same, Rodriquez pulled up for a right-wing jumper with 1:03 left that pushed the lead back to 63-60.
"Angel made some huge plays when we needed it," Weber said