"Keeping his guys off the offensive glass is a very difficult task," he added, "and we just got into a rush."
Both teams looked sluggish early, and the game stayed tight through the first 15 minutes, but a late scoring burst by the Wildcats gave them the 16-point halftime lead.
South Carolina-Upstate scored eight straight points — including four from Maxey — and took a 12-8 lead with 11:29 left in the first half. McGruder later went on a seven-point tear, ending with a 3-pointer that gave Kansas State a 17-16 lead.
The Wildcats did not kick into high gear, however, until Gipson started taking advantage of his size in the paint. With 4:29 left in the half, Gipson made a free throw after getting fouled. He scored the next four points for Kansas State, including a dunk that ignited a previously dormant crowd.
Between Gipson's contributions and consecutive 3-pointers by Omari Lawrence, the Wildcats rode a 13-0 run into the locker room.
Lawrence and Diaz finished with 10 points for Kansas State and Williams led all rebounders with nine. The Spartans made just one of their 11 attempts from 3-point range.