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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Will Spradling had 16 points and five assists, including one that set up Shane Southwell’s 3-pointer in the closing minutes, and Kansas State beat No. 8 Florida 67-61 on Saturday night.
Rodney McGruder added 13 points and Jordan Henriquez had nine points and five blocks for the Wildcats (9-2), who watched a 10-point halftime lead evaporate before clamping down against one of the nation’s top defensive teams and then pulling away in the final minutes.
Patric Young had 19 points for the Gators (8-2), including two with just over 2 minutes left that got them within 58-55. But that’s when Southwell knocked down his 3 from the corner, and McGruder made two free throws with 1:05 left to create some breathing room.
Kansas State held on from the foul line for its first regular-season, non-conference win over a top 10 team since defeating No. 8 Minnesota on Dec. 21, 1981.
Kenny Boynton and Scott Wilbekin scored 11 each for the Gators, whose only other loss came at then-No. 8 Arizona. Leading scorer Mike Rosario was held to five points on 1-of-9 shooting.
The Wildcats have been struggling in new coach Bruce Weber’s motion offense, and it showed in sloppy, lackluster losses to No. 2 Michigan and No. 14 Gonzaga. But they finally managed to get it clicking just enough against one of the nation’s premier defenses.
Still, it was defense that ruled this one from the start.
Kansas State built an early lead by turning over Florida twice in the opening minutes, and the Gators responded with a 9-2 surge in which they twice scored off turnovers in transition.
Kansas State eventually settled down on offense, and that proved to be the difference in the first half.