Senior Shane Southwell tied his career-high with 19 points, as K-State ran its winning streak to seven games with a 72-41 win over Tulane on Saturday in the second game of the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival at the Barclays Center.
Playing close to his home of Harlem, Southwell posted double figures for sixth time this season, as he went 6-of-13 from the field, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range, to go with five rebounds. It marked the third time in his career he registered 19 points in a game, including earlier this year vs. Central Arkansas on Dec. 1 and against Kansas on Jan. 22, 2013.
“Obviously, it was a big night for me to play close to home,” said Southwell. “However, I’m just happy that we played well as a team and got the win. It’s always fun to play in front of friends and family, but what was even better for me was for us to play well as a team.”
In addition to Southwell’s stellar play, the Wildcats (9-3) continued their stifling play on the defense, holding Tulane (7-7) to a season-low 41 points on 28.6 percent shooting (12-of-42). The squad, which ranks ninth nationally in scoring defense, has held nine of the last 11 opponents to their season low in points, including 60 or less on six occasions. The 41 points were the second-fewest allowed to an opponent this season and the fewest since allowing 36 to Long Beach State on Nov. 22, 2013.
Joining Southwell in double figures was freshman Nigel Johnson, who scored 13 points on 5-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Fellow freshman Wesley Iwundu chipped in nine points, while junior Thomas Gipson and freshman Marcus Foster each added six points. Gipson led the way with seven rebounds.
Saturday’s game also saw the debut of freshman Jevon Thomas, who became eligible on Dec. 21 after having to sit out the first semester. Thomas finished with a team-high four assists and team-tying three steals with two points and two rebounds in 19 minutes of action.
The seven-game winning streak is the second-longest of Weber’s tenure at K-State and the longest since the Wildcats won eight in a row from Dec. 18, 2012 to Jan. 9, 2013.
As has been the case during its win streak, balance was again key for K-State, as 11 total players scored at least one field goal and the squad recorded 19 assists on 27 made field goals. The team also notched a season-high with 11 3-point field goals to go with a season-tying 13 steals. The Wildcats also continued to protect the ball, posting just six turnovers after tallying a season-low four against Gonzaga on Dec. 21.
Rebounding was also important, as the Wildcats out-rebounded their eighth consecutive opponent, this time by a margin of 41-36, and moved to 28-2 under coach Bruce Weber when out-rebounding a foe. The team also corralled 21 offensive rebounds and posted 18 second-chance points.
K-State held Tulane to just 13 percent (3-of-23) from the field in the first half to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room. After scoring a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 17:54 mark, the Green Wave went over 11 minutes without a field goal as the Wildcat built a double-digit lead. The advantage ballooned to high as 20 points after a lay-up by sophomore D.J. Johnson with 3:22 to play.
The 13 percent field goal percentage was the third-lowest by an opponent in a half in school history and the lowest since Long Beach State connected on 12.5 percent in the first half of a game on Nov. 22 at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in San Juan, P.R. The 10 points were the fewest allowed to an opponent in a first half this season, surpassing the 13 scored by LBSU in the game on Nov. 22.
The second half was much like the first, as K-State maintained a double-digit advantage the entire half. The Green Wave closed to within 15 points on two occasions, but each time, the Wildcats responded with a run to push the lead to 20 points. The 31-point final margin was the largest of the game and marked the third time this season that the team has won by 30 or more points.
K-State returns to the court on Tuesday, Dec. 31, as the Wildcats play host to George Washington (11-1) at Bramlage Coliseum at 2 p.m. The game will be shown on both the FOX Sports Midwest and Kansas City channels as well several other FSN affiliates across the country.
Fans can purchase a $30 general admission seat for both New Year’s Eve game and the Big 12 opener with Big 12 co-favorite Oklahoma State on Saturday, Jan. 4 through the K-State Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 221-CATS or online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets.