K-State bounces back from blowout loss, dominates against Jacksonville

K-State freshman guard Nijel Pack attempts to dribble past Jacksonville's Trey Sides in the Wildcat's 70-46 victory over the Dolphins on Monday afternoon. (Photo Courtesy of Scott Weaver | K-State Athletics)

The men’s basketball team dominated Jacksonville (6-4) on Monday afternoon in a 70-46 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.

Just under 48 hours after allowing the most points by an opponent this year in the Wildcat’s 100-69 loss to Baylor, Kansas State (3-5) managed to flip the script and hold the Dolphins to the lowest point total by an opponent this season.

“I’m happy for our guys,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “Obviously, a quick turnaround for us. [Baylor] kicked our butts Saturday, and Baylor’s really good. I think there was a little loss of confidence from that.”

Freshman guard Nijel Pack’s career-high 16 points as well as a double-double by sophomore guard DaJuan Gordon — 13 points, 12 rebounds — led the way for the Wildcats in their dominant victory.

“It felt good to get Nijel on track again, where he’s making some shots,” Weber said. “DaJuan, I told him yesterday, ‘Be the best DaJuan Gordon,’ and he has a double-double — 13 points, 12 rebounds.”

Gordon recorded two double-doubles this season and broke out of a disappointing shooting slump which plagued him until Monday afternoon.

K-State found some rare success from beyond the three-point line, a category they struggled with early throughout this season. The Wildcats connected on a season-high 11 threes in the contest.

“We all have been in the gym and working on our shots,” Gordon said. “Finally, they would go in now. We haven’t been making some, we all have been shooting bad, but now we are making them. It’s been good.”

Jacksonville hung in early in the game until the Wildcats fired off a 22-6 run midway through the first. K-State continued to push the tempo to take a commanding 42-23 lead into the half. K-State maintained the lead and continued to impose its will on Jacksonville in the second half.

K-State shot 50 percent from the floor and 52.9 percent from the three. Pack led the Wildcats with 12 points, including going 4-for-5 from behind the arc.

“Having some confidence when seeing the ball go through the net pretty much gives everyone confidence,” Pack said. “My teammates kept finding me which fed my confidence.”

K-State cooled off in the second half, only shooting 40 percent from the floor and 13.3 percent from three. Luckily for K-State, Jacksonville shot an abysmal 34 percent from the floor throughout the game and only had one player in double-digit scoring, junior forward Bryce Workman with 10.

K-State spread the ball around with ease on the afternoon, which Weber praised after the buzzer.

“23 assists on 27 field goals is phenomenal,” Weber said. “Once we got the ball moving side to side, we broke them down and were able to get easy shots.”

Senior guard Mike McGuirl led the Wildcats in assists, recording seven of 23 on the afternoon. The 23 assists are the most by K-State this season.

K-State managed to double up the Dolphins in rebounds, 45-22. DaJuan Gordon helped the Wildcats dominate underneath the basket, recording 12 rebounds, a team-high on the day.

“To be honest, they weren’t boxing out really,” Gordon said. “Everybody was just trying to crash and rebound.”

The Wildcats have a seven-day break for the holidays before resuming a four-game homestand against Omaha on Dec. 29. The matchup with the Mavericks is the final non-conference opponent for K-State until the SEC/Big 12 Challenge in late January.

Tip-off for the game against Omaha is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.