Men’s basketball faces first true road game in Georgia

Bruce Weber, K-State men's basketball coach, calls out to the team during the basketball game against Sotuh Carolina State on Nov. 29, 2015. (George Walker | The Collegian)

After a 66-63 win against the Sooners last season, the K-State men’s basketball got on the bus in Norman, Oklahoma to come home with a victory.

The Wildcats will attempt to be a better road team tonight as they take on the Bulldogs in Athens, Georgia.

“We had a couple great days of practice, but I didn’t know how we’d be at home,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “I didn’t know about the Sprint Center, but I do know they’ve reacted pretty well, and it’s different on the road. It comes down to character, toughness, chemistry and execution down the stretch to win games.”

Weber also touched on the 10-point loss to North Carolina on Nov. 24, during which the Wildcats had a 5-point lead with a little over three minutes to go. That is K-State’s only loss in six games this season.

“We played them tough for 37 minutes, but we couldn’t finish,” Weber said. “I think we can compete with anyone in the country, but as you saw Sunday, we can also lose to anyone in the country, too.”

K-State avoided an upset bid by South Carolina State last Sunday, prevailing 68-66 in Bramlage Coliseum.

With so many young players on this team, Weber said he is not too sure how his team will look in their first road matchup of the year.

“(Freshman point guard Kamau Stokes) stepped up for us at the Sprint Center, but you don’t know how guys are going to react to a different stage,” Weber said. “You want to be making shots, and when you’re not making shots you must keep the intensity on defense. Our strengths have been defense, rebounding and transition, which will be harder to do on the road.”

This road game will be a new experience for freshman forward Dean Wade, who had to think long and hard about the most hostile environment he has played in before.

“When we played Central Plains in high school, those games were the most intense,” the native of St. John, Kansas, said with a smile. “There were probably about 500 fans at the game, so there will be much more in Georgia.”

In five games this season, the Bulldogs are 3-2 with wins over Murray State, High Point and Oakland. In the five games, Georgia has three players averaging double-digit point totals. Senior guard Kenny Gaines is scoring 16 points per game, sophomore forward Yante Maten is averaging almost 15 points per game, and senior guard Charles Mann is contributing 10 points per contest.

“Their guards are really good,” Weber said. “Their scoring has been up and down, and they have some veteran guards who have been playing in the SEC. The big guys aren’t as good as they were last year, but they can still score the ball.”

Georgia defeated K-State 50-46 in Bramlage last December. Bulldog Mann had 17 points in the game and held Wildcat junior forward Wesley Iwundu to 7 points in 27 minutes of action.

Tipoff between the Wildcats and Bulldogs is set for 6 p.m. in Stegeman Coliseum.