The men’s basketball team struggled to score in the first half, but dominated in the second to beat North Dakota State 67-54 in the season opener on Tuesday night.
Junior guard Cartier Diarra led all scorers with a career-high 23 points on the night. Diarra put up 15 points in the second half alone.
“Just being able to go downhill. I settled for a lot of jumpers when I could have kept going downhill, and that was working for me a lot,” Diarra said.
Senior forward Makol Mawien finished with a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Wildcats shot a 33 field goal percentage, but only eight percent from three in the first half compared to the 29 percent from three by North Dakota State.
Kansas State was out-rebounded 23-17 in the first half, with only two offensive rebounds.
The Wildcats finished the first half trailing 22-21 against North Dakota.
A dominant second half was crucial for the Wildcats and helped K-State push past the Bison. The Wildcats outscored North Dakota State 46-32 to get a win in the first game of the season.
“You can see that, Cartier Diarra is a tremendous, tremendous talent, and I thought their physicality, their length, their athleticism wore on us in the second half, and that was the difference,” North Dakota State head coach David Richman said.
Points in the paint was the deciding factor for the Wildcats in this game — K-State finished the matchup with 34 points inside the paint.
K-State outscored North Dakota State 34-14 in the paint in the game, 18-10 in the first half alone.
In the second half — with nearly 12 minutes to go in the game — the Wildcats were only shooting seven percent from the floor. Within the next media timeout, the percentage had jumped to 28 percent.
The Wildcats would end the game shooting 29 percent from three.
“We needed to try to dig deep and get in the paint, which was working. I got layups early that was how I got my points to end the half, and Makol [Mawien] had a good night going to the basket,” Diarra said.
K-State will play on the road against University of Nevada-Las Vegas at 3 p.m., on Saturday on ESPN+.