The men’s basketball team struggled early, but pulled out a 67-54 win over North Dakota State in its first game of the season at Bramlage Coliseum Tuesday night.
Senior forward Makol Mawien had Kansas State’s first seven points, including a three-point basket en route to a 15-point, 10-rebound performance.
“Double-double, two in a row,” head coach Bruce Weber said of Mawien’s performance. “That’s great. Only one turnover. … He’s definitely made progress since the first exhibition game.”
The Wildcats surrendered a 13-4 run in the middle portion of the first half and found themselves trailing 22-17 with just over 4:30 to play in the half.
After that run, both teams would go scoreless for nearly three minutes before redshirt junior guard Cartier Diarra hit a layup, swatted a Bison shot and then scored through contact. At halftime, the deficit was just one point in favor of the Bison.
“At the start of the game we had good flow. We did some good things, but then I thought we got sticky fingers and we tried to make plays on our own, and there weren’t many possessions in the first half,” Weber said.
K-State struggled in the first half shooting the ball. They were just 1-12 from three-point range and 33 percent overall.
In the second half, it appeared that K-State was more focused on getting to the rim and scoring inside.
“I thought we settled down,” Weber said. “We showed them on the board, we were 1-12 from three, why not dominate twos? We win 34-14 in the paint.”
K-State certainly did emphasize scoring in the paint in the second half — they grew a 16-4 lead at halftime in the category to 34-14 for the game by consistently getting the ball inside.
The Wildcats pulled away behind 15 second-half points from Diarra. He recorded 23 total points, six rebounds and a team-high six assists. He created baskets consistently at times the Wildcat offense seemed to stagnate.
“I settled for a lot of jumpers when I could have kept going downhill and that was working for me a lot,” Diarra said. “They were closing out on me and I’d get by my man and they had a lot of help so we had some lobs and kick outs for threes.”
K-State shot nearly 52 percent from the field and 56 percent from three in the second half to close out the win.
The Wildcats managed to get their new faces into the game. Freshman forward Montavious Murphy started the game and had the most minutes of anyone, but only two points to show for it.
Freshman guard DaJuan Gordon was perfect from the floor and put in nine points while playing 23 minutes.
Freshman forward Antonio Gordon did not show up in the score column, but pulled down two rebounds in seven minutes.
Junior guard David Sloan, a junior college transfer, dropped in two points and two assists in 18 minutes.
K-State’s next action will come in Las Vegas against University of Nevada-Las Vegas Saturday. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and will tip off 3 p.m.