If we have learned anything about the K-State men’s basketball team so far this season, it’s this:
The young players are not scared of the spotlight and are ready and willing to step up early in the season for the Wildcats.
K-State defeated the South Dakota Coyotes 93-72 on Friday inside Bramlage Coliseum to improve to 3-0 in the young campaign.
“We focused a lot on the Columbia game and with the Kansas City trip on Monday, I think that was part to blame for our slow start,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “They took us in the first half and controlled the game.”
K-State was led in scoring by freshman Barry Brown who scored 18 points in the win over South Dakota.
“I saw my team in a drought and coming off the bench, I felt like I needed to bring some energy,” Brown said after the game. “I felt good today helping my team get the win.”
Despite a sluggish start and a deficit that reached eight points with five minutes left in the first half, the Wildcats jogged into the locker room at halftime only down three points, 42-39.
The eight point lead was quickly erased after Brown hit consecutive three-pointers to give the Wildcats a spark.
Freshman Dean Wade continues to show his abilities as he had eight points and five rebounds in the first half.
“He is going to be a very good player,” South Dakota Head Coach Craig Smith said. “They have lots of good young talent on this team.”
K-State tied the game at 49 with 16 minutes left in the second half after a tip-in by Wade, which was the first time the game was tied since it was 9-9.
The Wildcats took the lead on the very next possession after a foul and two made free-throws by Justin Edwards. It was the first time K-State led in nearly 20 minutes of play.
With the score 55-51 Wildcats, Coyote Tyler Hagedorn was called for a technical foul after a hard foul on a shot by Justin Edwards. The Wildcats took advantage by making three of the four free throws from Kamau Stokes and Justin Edwards to give K-State a seven point advantage.
After that, the Wildcats went on a 20-11 run to extend their lead to 78-62 with six minutes to play.
“I think we just kind of wore them out in the second half,” Weber said. “We had some big shots and some players stepped up well for us.”
K-State went on to win by 21 points and outscored the Coyotes 54-30 in the second half.
“I’m happy we adjusted in the second half,” Weber said. “We made some adjustments as a staff and the players did a better job communicating.”
Wildcat senior Stephen Hurt had 15 points, along with Wade and Edwards also both contributing 15 points as well.
K-State has scored 80 points in their first games of the season for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.
“We got stops in the second half, which really helped our offense,” Weber said. “We passed the ball well and we had lots of free throws. I thought early we were going to be a good shooting team, but we didn’t shoot well in the two exhibition games.”
The Wildcats will take the court next in Kansas City, Missouri at the CBE Hall of Fame Classic on Monday night when they take on the Missouri Tigers at 6 p.m. inside the Sprint Center.
“We are leaving the comfort zone of being at home and this is a big opportunity for us,” Weber said. “This will be a great match-up in a fun venue on national television so I hope our guys are excited and ready to go.”
With all the young players on the team, they are looking forward to the big stage on Monday night.
“It’s going to be fun for us and a learning experience, especially for our young guys,” said Brown. “I’m ready for it.”