Men’s basketball defeats American University, prepares for UMKC

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Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber motivates his team during the men's basketball game between Fort Hays State University and Kansas State University at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan. on October 29, 2017. (File photo by Cooper Kinley | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team opened regular season play with a visit from American University in Bramlage Coliseum on Friday night. The Wildcats beat the Eagles 83-45.

The game was the second of a double-header, with the women’s squad defeating Stephen F. Austin State prior to the men’s matchup.

In the first half, American was held to just 19 points versus K-State’s 48 points. The Wildcats blocked three Eagles’ shots in the first half, with two from sophomore forward Makol Mawien and one from graduate forward Mawdo Sallah.

Junior forward Dean Wade was the game’s leading scorer at halftime. In his 20 minutes on the court, Wade put up 15 points. Mawien was not far behind Wade, scoring 10 points in the opening period.

While the second half was closer, the outcome was never in doubt for the Wildcats, winning the half 35-26.

Three-point shooting was a strong spot for the Wildcats. As a team, they shot 54.5 percent from behind the arc, including perfect marks from Wade (3-3) and redshirt freshman guard Cartier Diarra (4-4).

K-State also won the “battle of the boards,” out-rebounding the Eagles 41-23. Mawien was the leading Wildcat rebounder, with nine total.

Wade was the leader in total points for the Wildcats, with 17 by the game’s end. Four other Wildcats joined Wade in the double-digit scoring club: Diarra with 13, Mawien with 12 and junior guards Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown Jr. with 10 each.

Stokes led the squad in assists, with seven total. As a team, the Wildcats assisted each other 22 times, just one fewer than last season’s team high.

After the game, Stokes was asked about the team’s assist totals.

“It was great — we moved the ball pretty well, got moving [and] got quick easy shots,” Stokes said to K-State Sports. “Today we made shots, and I can only get assists if they make the shots, so credit to them and I’ll keep attacking.”

A high number of turnovers was one negative takeaway from Friday’s victory — K-State gave the ball to its opponent 17 times. Head coach Bruce Weber touched on this when speaking about the team’s ball movement.

“The only negative was the turnovers, and that may be because we were a little too unselfish,” Weber said to K-State Sports. “The way they guarded, they backed up and clogged the middle. Sometimes we just have to shoot the open shot.

“They did a great job moving the ball,” Weber continued. “It is something we have emphasized and talked about. We are better at handling the ball and passing the ball. It really helps when your forward Dean [Wade] can create and make a pass also.”

The men’s basketball team will aim to carry its momentum into game number two on Tuesday when the University of Missouri-Kansas City comes to Manhattan. The first game of the season for the UMKC Kangaroos was a 109-57 dismantling at the hands of Wichita State.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday. The game can be viewed on FOX Sports Kansas City, ESPN3 or K-StateHD.TV.

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