(3)Kansas State soundly defeated (12)Gonzaga last night 81-64 which now sets up a highly anticipated matchup tonight with the #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils.
Playing before a highly purple wearing crowd K-State jumped out to an immediate 7-0 run and continued to play from in the lead throughout. Jacob Pullen led KSU with 18 points while freshman Will Spradling came off the bench to add 13 points.
Aided by a barrage of 3 pointers, the Wildcats got the lead to 49-32 at one point in the first half before Gonzaga got it down to 11 at the half. The Bulldogs then opened the 2nd half on a hot streak to get the lead all the way down to 53-47 before Pullen hit a huge 3 pointer to push the lead back to nine. Kansas State was scorching from the three point line in the game finishing 12-26 which comes out to roughly 46%.
Gonzaga was led by Robert Sacre who finished with 17 points, eleven of which came from the free throw line. Steven Gray added 15 points but it took him fifteen shots to get that amount as he went 6-15 from the floor shooting. Elias Harris who has been fighting injuries did not seem to be anywhere near the player he was last season as he finished with only 4 points and was non-existent for much of the game.
Curtis Kelly returned for K-State but he appeared to have some rust on him as at one point in the second half he had 3 fouls and 0 points. The sell out crowd burst into cheers though in the 2nd half when Kelly made a strong post move and got fouled as he made the bucket. He finished with 3 points and 4 rebounds in his debut effort of the season.
For the game, K-State shot 50.9% from the floor going 29-57 while Gonzaga was 19-57 for 33.3%. In a revolving storyline KSU struggled from the free throw line as they finished 11-20 for the game. Gonzaga was much better as they went 23-29 from the stripe. Kansas State had the advantage in rebounds also over Gonzaga as they finished with 37 compared to the Bulldogs 24.
One thing K-State will want to clear up before playing Duke is how they take care of the basketball. The Wildcats committed 22 turnovers in the contest, some of which were caused by just being totally careless with the ball.
As stated previously, K-State's reward for winning this game is the opportunity to play Duke in the CBE Finals. It should be a fun matchup and one that the Wildcats should have a homecourt advantage in, although there was A LOT of Duke attire being worn in Kansas City on Monday night at the Sprint Center.