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Kansas State wallops No. 23 Alabama, 71-58

By Dave Skretta
AP Sports Writer / December 18, 2011
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KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Jordan Henriquez scored a career-high 17 points, Angel Rodriguez added a career-best 13 and Kansas State beat No. 23 Alabama 71-58 at the Sprint Center on Saturday night.

Jamar Samuels added 14 points for the Wildcats (7-1), who used a 19-6 run midway through the second half to avoid going to overtime for the third consecutive game. Kansas State lost to West Virginia in two extra sessions last week and needed overtime to beat North Florida last Sunday.

JaMychal Green scored 20 points for Alabama (8-3), which has lost three of four.

Trevor Releford, who grew up in suburban Kansas City and attended Bishop Miege High School, added 14 points for the Crimson Tide in a homecoming that would have been much more memorable had they been as stingy over the final 30 minutes as they were over the first 10 minutes.

The Wildcats started 2 of 18 from the field, struggling against Alabama's tenacious, trapping half-court defense. They only trailed by seven, though, when they finally figured out how to get open shots along the baseline, and that opened up holes elsewhere.

Kansas State was still clinging to a 38-37 lead with just more than 13 minutes left when Samuels hit a 3-pointer off a feed from Rodriguez, one of his career-best seven assists. Shane Southwell scored moments later, Samuels added a pair of free throws and Rodriguez scored after a nifty behind-the-back move that got him open in the lane to make it 49-39 with less than 10 minutes to play.

The lead swelled to 61-45 when Henriquez scored back-to-back baskets and Thomas Gipson added a tough bucket in the paint. The Crimson Tide never got close the rest of the way.

Kansas State sealed the game with free throws down the stretch.

The game matched a pair of head coaches in Alabama's Anthony Grant and Kansas State's Frank Martin who were teammates at Miami (Fla.) Senior High School, where they met as sophomores. In fact, Grant is the godfather of Martin's eldest child, Brandon, and they remain good friends.

That doesn't mean they wanted to win any less than usual.

Both coaches spent the majority of the game riding the officials, riding their own players -- more or less yelling at anyone within earshot -- and coaching with the passion of March in mid-December.

Alabama, one of the nation's best defensive teams, held the Wildcats to two field goals over the first 10 minutes, slowly building a meager lead. Tony Mitchell's first basket with 9:08 left in the half made it 15-8, the Crimson Tide's biggest lead of the game.

The Wildcats still trailed 17-12 with less than 5 minutes left when Martavious Irving scored and Rodriguez fed Henriquez for an easy dunk, starting a 14-7 run to end the half. Henriquez's bucket with 18 seconds remaining allowed Kansas State to take a 26-24 lead into the break.

The game was being played at a pace that favored Grant's Crimson Tide, who came in allowing an average of just more than 55 points per game -- 11th-best in the nation. But the Wildcats heated up in the second half, blowing past that number with 7 1/2 minutes left.

They wound up shooting 44 percent from the field.

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