Newcomers show flashes, Wildcats take down Pitt State in exhibition match

(Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Led by sophomore Selton Miguel’s 18 points, the Kansas State men’s basketball team beat Division II Pittsburg State 78-59 in an exhibition game Thursday night. The game will be the only exhibition of the season ahead of the team’s season opener against Florida A&M on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

The biggest question coming into the game against Pitt State was how impactful the newcomers on the team would be. Coming into the season, head coach Bruce Weber had nothing but good things to say about freshmen Maximus Edwards and Logan Landers and transfers Jordan Brooks, Trey Harris, Ismael “Ish” Massoud, Markquis Nowell and Mark Smith.

The newcomers did, in fact, impress many during the game. Smith, a fifth-year guard from Missouri, paced the Wildcats with 13 rebounds, five assists and six points. Nowell, a sophomore guard transfer from Little Rock, Arkansas, put up nine points on 4-8 shooting but impressed many with his defense and playmaking with his 5 foot 8 inch frame.

Massoud, a sophomore stretch-forward from Wake Forest, put up 10 points and played the most minutes of any Wildcat with 28. Landers, a 6 foot 9 inch forward from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, struggled at first to hit easy shots but found a groove later in the game. The freshman big-man finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and this sequence of plays where he gets a block on one end and a dunk on the other.

Bruce Weber used the exhibition game — which doesn’t count for or against the Wildcat’s record — to rotate in 22 different lineups throughout the 40-minute game. However, he opened both halves with Massoud, Smith, sophomore Nijel Pack, junior Kaosi Ezeagu and super-senior Mike McGuirl. The starting squad was missing one big, noticeable piece from this past year – sophomore Davion Bradford, who was out due to illness.

Bradford typically provides a dominating presence down low that K-State definitely missed early and often. It seemed players were trying to grab rebounds using their height instead of their bodies, which allowed Pitt State to get physical in the first half. Having Bradford on the court would have likely kept the Gorillas from doing so.

Shooting-wise, the Wildcats went 27-for-59 from the field and 8-for-24 from three. Something Bruce Weber wanted to go get over the offseason were better shooters, and while the numbers didn’t necessarily line up tonight, the eye test says that he got those players.

McGuirl finished with eight points and four rebounds as the veteran only saw 26 minutes of playing time. Pack, this past season’s team leader in points, only amassed five points and three assists in a subdued role. Ezeagu finished with seven points and four rebounds in the starting center position.

Something changed unlike most Bruce Weber teams during the Pitt State — the ability to play small-ball. The second and third most-used lineups for the Wildcats featured no center, which showed Weber’s confidence in his team shooting threes. Perhaps this means K-State will score at a higher clip this season.

K-State takes on Florida A&M on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in Bramlage Coliseum for the season opener. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and can be watched on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Check back in with the Collegian after the game for a recap.