(KSU) K-State connected an impressive 50.8 percent from the field, including 48 percent from 3-point range, to extend their non-conference home winning streak to 22 games with an 86-49 victory over USC Upstate at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
The stellar shooting night came with a trio of double-digit scoring efforts from juniors Kamau Stokes (17 points), Barry Brown (15) and Dean Wade (13). In all, 11 different Wildcats registered points.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats (8-1) spent little time jumping out to a lead in the first half, as the team sprinted out to a 14-0 run in the opening minutes, including four points and the opening basket from sophomore forward Makol Mawien. In the opening run, K-State connected on its first six shots, while holding the USC Upstate (3-8) to zero points in the first four minutes and two seconds.
Coming off his sixth-career 20-point game on Sunday against Vanderbilt, junior Kamau Stokes continued his hot hand, accounting for a pair of 3-pointers in the opening run. Stokes' 3-point presence continued with the rest of the team, as the Wildcats shot 5-of-8 in the first 10 minutes of the game to jump out to a 24-2 lead.
Entering the game No. 3 nationally in 3-point shooting, the Spartans had trouble scoring any points early, as the Wildcats held them to just 23 points and 33 percent (5-of-16) from 3-point range in the first half. Prior to Tuesday's matchup, USC Upstate averaged 11.2 3-point makes and 31.2 attempts per contest.
The defensive pressure was too much for the Spartans in the first half, as they were forced to settle for tough shots, shooting just 31 percent (9-of-29) in the half. On the opposite end, the Wildcats scored with ease, connecting on 50 percent of their shots (15-of-30) including a prolific 57 percent (8-of-14) from beyond the arc.
In the first half, K-State outscored USC Upstate 43-23, as Stokes led the way with 15 points, all of which came from beyond the arc on 5-of-6 shooting. Wade had a team-high 5 rebounds and Brown dished a team-best 4 assists.
The Wildcats continued the trend in the second half as Brown pulled up and connected on consecutive 3-pointers to open the half. Later in the half, Stokes, looking to continue his 3-point shooting from the first half, had a 3-pointer rim out and into the hands of Wade, who was able to collect it and throw down a put-back slam.
Ranking amongst the top in the nation, the Wildcats continued to be efficient in passing, accounting for 21 assists in the game and posting only 10 turnovers. Coming into Tuesday night's action, K-State ranked tied for 14th in fewest turnovers per game (10.8) and 17th in assist-to-turnover ratio (5.5) in the NCAA.
As a team, K-State expanded its home-unbeaten streak to six on the season, behind 50.8 percent shooting from the field (30-of-59) and 48.0 percent from beyond the arc (12-of-25). Coming off a season high and third best all-time 91.7 percent from the free-throw line, the Wildcats continued to shoot well from the stripe, making 85 percent (11-of-13) from the line.
Defensively, K-State held USC Upstate to 36 percent (19-of-52) from the field and 33 percent (8-of-24) from three. The Wildcats outrebounded the Spartans 35-25 in the game and forced 18 turnovers in the game, collecting 36 points off of turnovers.
Three Wildcats hit double-digits in scoring on Tuesday, as Stokes led the squad with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and Brown and Wade added 15 and 13 points, respectively. In addition to their scoring efforts, Wade led the team in rebounding with 7 rebounds, while Stokes dished out a team-high 5 assists.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kamau Stokes – Coming off his sixth-career 20-point game only two days ago against Vanderbilt, junior guard Kamau Stokes led the Wildcats with a hot hand in scoring, totaling 17 points in the game on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, in just 26 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
16 – The number of times the Wildcats have held opponents to under 50 points under head coach Bruce Weber. Of the 16 occasions, 3 have come this year, with the fourth coming Tuesday against USC Upstate.
SEASON RECORD UPDATE
K-State 8-1 (0-0 Big 12)
USC Upstate 3-8 (0-0 Atlantic Sun)
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On starting the game strong…
"We came out ready to play. Obviously last week against Oral Roberts was the first time we did not have the energy. We played so hard tonight in the first half. We had Xavier [Sneed] ask out three times, Cartier [Diarra] asked out, a couple of others too. That means they are doing the things they need to do on defense. Plus you have to push yourself to get into better shape so you can play longer if we need you to gut it out at the end of a game. I thought our defense started it. We were all over the place and flying around. They average 80 points a game. We attached to them, read all their stuff, and rebounded better to not give them second chance points. On the other end, they play that matchup zone and switch to 1-3-1. You have to move the basketball, and with 21 assists on 30 baskets and to ten turnovers, and we did that. That means our guys are not selfish and are playing the right way."
On Makol Mawien's play…
"You feel bad, he only played 14 minutes, but we wanted Nigel [Shadd] and Levi [Stockard III] to get some minutes. Mawdo [Sallah] played really well too. He was active and had three rebounds. Makol had three rebounds and eight points, hitting some shots. I liked the first shot - he had a three and passed it up, instead he took a dribble went in, shot a fifteen footer and got a little confidence. Then he had a good, active day. Four-for-four, eight points, and three rebounds. Levi helped us the other day, these guys did tonight. We said all along that is was going to be by committee. Nigel comes in and was a force. Three rebounds and a blocked shot; he was very active."
On Kamau Stokes' confidence…
"The other night he was our leading scorer but also had six assists and no turnovers. I think he has three straight games without a turnover and 11 or 12 assists. That is maturity. The confidence part is getting in the gym. His dad loves him so much, cares so much. He watches the games more than we do. He has these high goals and if you want to get good you have to put the time in. The light has maybe switched on a little bit and hopefully it stays, because when he shoots like that and makes the right plays on the other end, it is really important for us."
Junior Guard Kamau Stokes
On what worked for him tonight…
"Definitely my shot. We watched the video, knew where the open shots were going to be and took advantage of that opportunity. Everybody was making shots, and when you get good movement on offense, shots fall."
On the better energy level tonight compared to the last home game…
"Once the game is over we have to move onto the next one. We cannot dwell on that game. You can take stuff from that game and improve, but you cannot be thinking about last game."
Junior Guard Barry Brown
On the 24-2 start tonight…
"It was fun, especially continuing that. I feel like it is more fun when we get the lead at the end and we can get the other guys in, and let them see what it is like out there on the court. They work hard every day, and to come out and build that lead so they can come in is fun."
On having a more complete performance tonight…
"I felt like we put two halves together. We had some slip-ups and miscommunication, but ultimately I felt like we came to play."
USC Upstate Head Coach Kyle Perry
On the game…
"We had a lot of trouble guarding the three-point line. We just have to get better and we have not had a lot of time to practice. We have to improve in our matchup zone and not allow open shots. We did a better job over the second half. We made some adjustments and improved. They are a good team. You have to give them a lot of credit."
On the Kansas State defense…
"They switch everything and do a good job of that. They are long, athletic and physical so it is tough. We are still working two young freshman posts. So we are trying to get them going and get the ball inside. I think if we continue to work we will be alright down the road."
On moving forward following the game…
"I think right now without practice time we need to keep guys upbeat and keep them going and competing. We have not had a lot of time to practice so we need to get back to practice. Next week will be good for us."
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
K-State is now 127-32 in non-conference play dating back to the 2006-07 season.
K-State is now 95-5 (.948) in non-conference play at home dating back to 2006-07, including 88-5 (.944) mark at Bramlage Coliseum… The Wildcats have won 82 of their last 85 non-conference home games, including 22 in a row dating back to 2015.
K-State is off to an 8-1 start for the second consecutive season, which hasn't happened since doing it in back-to-back season of 2010-11 and 2011-12.
K-State scored 86 points on 50.8 percent shooting (30-of-59), including 48.0 percent (12-of-25) from 3-point range, while hitting on 87.5 percent (14-of-16) from the free throw line… The 86 points were the second-most scored by the Wildcats this season.
K-State has now connected on better than 45 percent from the field in eight of nine games this season, including 50 percent or better in five contests.
K-State has now held 64 opponents to 60 points or less in the Weber era… USC Upstate was held to 36.5 percent shooting (19-of-52), including 33.3 percent (8-of-24) from 3-point range.
The Wildcats forced 18 turnovers and outscored the Spartans 36-12 in points off turnovers.
Junior Kamau Stokes led the Wildcats with 17 points on 6-of-8 field goals, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc... 15 of Stokes' 17 points came in the first half... He also added 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
Stokes recorded 15 points in a half for the fifth time in his career... The 15 first-half points were his most in a first half this season and tied for the most points in a first half in his career... He also tallied 15 first-half points against Texas Tech (1/12/16).
Junior Barry Brown scored 15 points on 5-of-10 field goals, including 3-of-7 from 3-point range, with 5 rebounds... Brown added 4 assists and 2 steals.
Junior Dean Wade scored 13 points on 4-of-8 field goals, including 5-of-6 from the free throw line to go with 7 rebounds... Wade also added 3 assists and 3 steals in 25 minutes of action.
K-State will make the trek south to play host to American Conference foe Tulsa (4-4) on Saturday at Wichita's INTRUST Bank Arena at 7 p.m. CT. There are a number of ticketing options for the game, including the Wildcat 4 Pack, through selectaseat.com or the K-State Athletics Ticket Office by calling (800) 221.CATS or online at www.kstatesports.com/tickets. The game will broadcast on FOX Sports Kansas City, www.KStateHD.TV and ESPN3.