K-State newcomers steal the show in victory over Milwaukee

K-State freshman forward Davion Bradford attempts to get past a Milwaukee double team in the Wildcat's 76-75 victory on Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum. (Photo courtesy of K-State Atheltics)

Kansas State (2-4) had five players finish in double-digit figures, including a monster performance from freshman Davion Bradford in the Wildcat’s 76-75 win over Milwaukee (0-1) on Friday night. The game concluded K-State’s six-game homestand to start the season, finishing with a 2-4 record.

“We made a lot of good reads, a lot of nice plays and made shots,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “Obviously, we have to get better, but it’s just a hard-fought win.”

Multiple newcomers stepped up in the victory, as Bradford paved the way, leading all scorers with 18 points. Freshmen guards Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack also finished with career highs.

K-State’s older duo of junior Rudi Williams and senior Mike McGuirl also stepped up, with Williams scoring 16 points off the bench and McGuirl netting 11 points.

“We were clicking tonight,” Bradford said. “We were executing, just having a hot hand tonight, they just kept feeding it to us and we just kept doing our jobs.”

The Wildcats are one of the youngest teams in college basketball, meaning there will be plenty of growing pains this season. The young team showed growth on both sides of the ball.

“Guys have been just been getting better over time,” Williams said. “We do have a young team. Obviously, everybody knows that but I feel like everyone is just starting to understand how things work and stuff is starting to click for us.”

Following an 81-68 loss to Fort Hays State, the Wildcats tried to wash it away with an opponent that had yet to play a game this season because of COVID-19.

Ghosts of games past appeared early when the Panthers jumped out to a quick seven-point lead in the opening three minutes of the game. The Wildcats pushed back with a 14-0 run of their own to snuff out the early barrage and take the lead, 14-7.

Milwaukee retook the lead after another 7-0 run, but the Wildcats came back and outscored the Panthers 15-7 in the final six minutes to take a 38-31 lead into halftime. This is the second time through five games the Wildcats held the lead after the opening half.

Miguel led K-State with 12 points at the half as the Wildcats shot 50 percent from the floor.

Neither team had long second-half scoring runs as they did in the first half. The Panthers kept the game in reach and were able to take a 60-59 lead with under eight minutes remaining in the game.

Just like in the first half, the Wildcats responded, creating some separation with a 6-0 run with under two minutes left in the game.

The Panthers made one last push and went on a 5-0 run to pull within one point as the Wildcats failed to hit crucial free throws to seal the game. Milwaukee got the ball back with one second remaining, after a pair of missed free throws by Pack, but McGuirl intercepted the inbound, ending the game.

Milwaukee junior transfer Deandre Gholston led the Panthers with 15 in his debut and the team as a whole shot 42 percent from the floor. The Panthers outrebounded the Wildcats 34-30, led by Gholston’s six.

The Wildcat’s finished the night shooting 55 percent from the floor and were able to dish out the ball with a season-high 20 assists, led by eight from McGuirl. Bradford also led the Wildcats with seven boards on the night.

The Wildcats open up Big 12 Conference play with a road contest against Iowa State on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. from Hilton Coliseum and can be seen nationally on ESPNU.