Men’s basketball pulls away in second half, gets win on opening night

The Kansas State men's basketball team huddles together during the Florida A&M game on Nov. 10, 2021. (Danae Cartright | Collegian Media Group)

Sophomore guard Nigel Pack led the Wildcats in scoring with 18 points as the Kansas State men’s basketball team (1-0, 0-0) took down the Florida A&M Rattlers 67-57 on the first game of the season.

After allowing Florida A&M to shoot 45 percent from the field in the first half, K-State hunkered down on defense, only giving up 38 percent in the second. The Wildcats shot 57 percent in the second half, but only put in 31 percent of buckets in the first. Still, K-State led 33-30 at the break.

“I thought in the first half we didn’t keep the ball moving once our set or our first action broke down,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “They’re older, they’re tough. I said before, they’re much better defensively than I ever thought they would be. And they were motivated. They played hard.”

The Rattlers sported an older rotation of players with a fourth-year player, two fifth-years and a sixth year. Leading the way for Florida A&M was senior M.J. Randolph, who put up 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the contest.

“They’ve got a really good player in M.J. Randolph,” Weber said. “Twenty-seven points, six assists, seven rebounds — pretty good line. We made some mistakes on the defensive end that allowed him to get a few of those, but he earned a bunch of them.”

Aside from Pack’s leading performance, two other Wildcats reached double-digit points. Fifth-year Missouri transfer Mark Smith scored 12, and sophomore Selton Miguel scored 10. Other than that, statistics were spread out amongst the team.

Starters stayed the same as the exhibition match, with Pack, Smith, super-senior Mike McGuirl, sophomore Wake Forest transfer Ismael “Ish” Massoud and junior Kaosi Ezeagu. Ezeagu rotated time in with this past year’s starter, sophomore Davion Bradford, who is still being held to limited minutes.

Junior Little Rock transfer Markquis Nowell and sophomore Luke Kasubke both saw serious minutes as well, while freshman Logan Landers came in for less than two minutes, which Weber credits to the Rattlers veteran experience.

“I thought it was a little fast for Logan,” Weber said. “They’ve got older guys, and he struggled defensively right away when he got in. That’s why we gave Davion, on only a few days of practice, the nod over Logan.”

K-State next takes on Omaha at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17, in Bramlage Coliseum. The game can be watched on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, with a recap after the game on the Collegian.