Sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez ignited a 20-4 run with a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter, as Kansas State posted a 79-72 win over Mogi Das Cruze Club team on Saturday.
The win was the first of K-State’s 10-day trip to Brazil after dropping an 81-67 decision to Sao Jose dos Campos on Friday night. Much like Sao Jose, Mogi Das Cruzes is a member of the National Brazilian Basketball (NBB) League, which is considered the top professional league in Brazil. Mogi Das Cruzes will be playing its first year in the NBB in 2012-13 after becoming one of the top two teams in another Brazilian professional league. The team is located in the northern part of the province of Sao Paulo, which is about an hour from the team’s hotel in Sao Jose.
“It was another hard-fought game against a veteran team that knows how to play,” said first-year head coach Bruce Weber. “Just like yesterday, we jumped out to a good lead then they rallied back. I called a timeout with the scored tied (59-all) in the fourth quarter and told the team we are at the same exact point as yesterday. We need to respond in a different way. It all started with a 3-pointer from Angel then Nino made a big steal. We made the other team fall apart. It was a big step for our guys to make plays when it counted.”
Much like its first game on Friday, K-State jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter, building as much as an 11-point lead. A 3-pointer by Rodriguez gave the Wildcats a 13-5 lead midway through the opening quarter before Mogi Das Cruzes closed to within 13-11 with six straight points. However, junior guard Will Spradling responded with 3-point field goal to go with two free throws from sophomore Thomas Gipson, as the team closed out the quarter with a 26-19 lead. Junior Shane Southwell’s four points led nine players scoring in the first quarter.
Despite a poor shooting quarter, the Wildcats extended their lead with a big second quarter from sophomore Adrian Diaz. The Miami, Fla., native opened the quarter with a field goal then after a Mogi Das Cruzes 3-pointer cut the lead to 36-29, he converted on back-to-back thunderous dunks propelling K-State to a 40-32 halftime lead.
Mogi Das Cruzes made its move in the third quarter, using an 11-3 run to close to within 49-46 with 3:20 left. A pair of Rodriguez free throws and a field goal by sophomore Nino Williams pushed the lead back to 53-48, but the club scored five of the last seven points to trail just 55-53 heading into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter did not begin well for the Wildcats, as Mogi Das Cruzes quickly tied the score at 55-all then took its first lead with back-to-back field goals. With the score knotted at 59-all, Rodriguez hit a big 3-point field goal from the top of the key to start the 20-4 run. The Wildcats scored eight quick points on the Rodriguez 3, a Williams’ basket and a Diaz free throw and lay-up. After a 3-pointer by Mogi Das Cruzes, Spradling added a big 3-pointer with just under five minutes to play to give K-State a 72-63 edge. Rodriguez extended the lead to its largest at 79-63 with another trey at the 2:20 mark before Mogi Daz Cruzes closed it out with nine straight points.
K-State shot 41.4 percent (29-of-70) from the field, including 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range, to go with 44 rebounds, 16 assists, seven steals and five blocks. After connecting on 13-of-15 free throw attempts vs. Sao Jose on Friday, the squad hit just 65.2 percent (15-of-23) of its attempts against Mogi Das Cruzes.
The Wildcats had a balanced scoring effort with four players in double figures led by 13 points each by Diaz and Rodriguez. Spradling and Southwell added 12 and 10 points, respectively. Diaz finished with a near double-double with a team-tying nine rebounds and two blocks, while Rodriguez again led the way with five assists to go with two steals. Williams also had nine rebounds for the Wildcats to go with eight points.
During halftime of the game, K-State was able to honor one of its former players in Eduardo (Galvao) Agra, a native Brazilian who played for head coach Jack Hartman’s Wildcats from 1979-83. A co-captain his senior year in 1982-83, Agra helped the school to 81 wins in his career, including trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1980, 1981 and 1982. He played on several Brazilian National Teams and was a member of the 1984 Olympic team. He has become well-known in Brazil as an analyst for ESPN Brasil for Brazilian Professional and international basketball.
K-State begins the trek to Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, which is a five-hour bus trip from Sao Paulo. The excursion will be broke up with the third game of the trip against Pingdamonhangaba Club at 9 a.m. CT. The traveling party should arrive in Rio by early Sunday evening. For updates on the game, please follow kstate_gameday on Twitter.