The men’s basketball team was back in action on Friday night in an exhibition game. Kansas State defeated Emporia State 86-49 behind 18 points by senior guard Xavier Sneed. Freshman forward Antonio Gordon led the bench with 16 points and freshman forward Montavious Murphy had a double-double in the matchup.
The Wildcats took the floor for the first time since 2014 without senior trio Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes, and Dean Wade, but fans got a glimpse into the future with freshman trio forward Antonio Gordon, guard DaJuan Gordon and forward Murphy.
“I think definitely all the butterflies are finally gone,” Antonio Gordon said. “Before the game we had the pregame jitters because it was the first time we were playing in front of great fans, like great fan base, so we were definitely excited at the same time to get out there. So I feel like that’s out the window now and we’ll be ready to play on Wednesday as well.”
K-State celebrated the Big 12 conference title with a banner unveiling, but it was all business on the court.
The Wildcats opened up with a 14-3 run in the first half.
It was a low scoring affair early in the first half in Manhattan, but the Wildcats remained in control of the entire first half. The Hornets managed to cut the deficit to 11, only trailing 23-12 after a scoring drought by K-State.
K-State forced ESU to call a timeout with a quick 6-0 run with five minutes remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats finished the half with a dominating run capped off by a last-second lay-up from junior transfer guard David Sloan, putting the Wildcats up 42-19 going into the half.
In the first half, Antonio Gordon led all scorers with 14 points with six rebounds and one assist. Murphy cleaned up the boards with seven rebounds and five points.
The largest concern for the first half was the seven turnovers, but the Wildcats did force 16 Hornet turnovers altogether —seven of which were steals — and scored 18 points off the turnovers.
The Wildcats cruised in the second half behind an 11 point half by Sneed. The Wildcats scored 44 points in the second half and 47 percent from the floor.
K-State had a scare when junior forward Levi Stockard and Sneed collided going for a loose ball, but both returned to game action.
K-State finished the game on a 16-2 run in the final 5:23 and defeated Emporia State 86-49.
The Wildcats finished the game shooting 46 percent from the floor.
K-State got a lot of production from the bench with 45 bench points. Antonio Gordon, DuJuan Gordon and Murphy combined for 33 points. Sloan also dished out seven assists.
Antonio Gordon led the bench with 16 points, seven rebounds, and one assist.
“I trusted my ability, the coaches trusted me and put me in the game, and I just went out there confident and played with energy,” Antonio Gordon said.
After the game, Sneed also talked about Antonio Gordon’s performance positively.
“His aggressiveness on offense and defense — he did a lot of good things out there,” Sneed said.
Antonio Gordon was hitting shots early in an arena that has a history of taking some time to adjust to, Sneed said.
“It’s hard for people to come in here right away and shoot right away so [I’m] glad to see he’s doing that,” Sneed said.
Head coach Bruce Weber talked about what stood out about Antonio’s Gordon’s performance.
“Just his activity, he’s a very confident young man and very loose. If he is going to continue to make strides, he’s gotta be a little more disciplined,” Weber said. “He’s confident he can score, he can do a lot of things — it was a positive.”
The Wildcats will face off against Washburn on Tuesday in the second and final exhibition of the season. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. and streaming on ESPN+.