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Kansas State Defeats Long Beach State On Christmas Day, Wins Diamond Head Classic

The Wildcats are headed into Big 12 conference play with a lot of momentum.

While they missed the chance to play No. 15 Xavier, who has struggled with suspensions after their brawl against Cincinnati earlier in the year, Kansas State dominated their three opponents in the 2011 Diamond Head Classic.

They won the championship Sunday night in Hawaii with a 77-60 victory over Long Beach State.

The now 10-1 Wildcats were led by 6'4 guard Rodney McGruder, who had a breakout game after struggling through parts of the season with his role as "The Man" after the graduation of Jacob Pullen. The junior had 28 points and 6 rebounds while shooting 10-11 from the field.

While the 49ers only have a 7-6 record, they've had an unbelievably grueling non-conference schedule, with a win at Pittsburgh and close losses at Kansas, North Carolina and Louisville.

Frank Martin's team has closed out the non-conference portion of the season strong, with their only loss coming in 2OT to a solid Big East team (West Virginia) and an impressive neutral-court victory over Alabama last week.

If they finish in the upper half of a strong Big 12 conference, they should have a good chance at making their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons under Martin.

For the latest news and notes on Kansas State basketball, head on over to Bring On The Cats.