Sophomores Nijel Pack and Ismael “Ish” Massoud topped Kansas State in scoring with 15 apiece in the Wildcat’s 79-64 win over Omaha. While it seemed Massoud was going to take charge of the team in the first half – where “Ish” scored all 15 of his points – the rest of the team helped balance out scoring as four Wildcats reached double figures and three more with eight.
“In the first half, they came to me early, my teammates did a great job of getting me open,” Massoud said. “In the second half, the way the team is set up, it might not be your half … I just have to be solid and play my role, and that’s what I did.”
Scoring was helped tremendously by ball-facilitators like Pack and sophomore Selton Miguel as they combined for 11 assists. Altogether, the Wildcats recorded 18 assists on 28 field goal makes.
Not everyone was “on” during the game, however, as a notable exemption from scoring was super-senior Mike McGuirl, who finished with zero points, three rebounds and two assists as he started the game off the bench. The veteran team-leader has only scored three points through two games after averaging 11.8 points per contest this past season.
“We told everyone, ‘If you play well, it’s only right – you get the start,'” head coach Bruce Weber said. “I thought if I brought him off the bench, it might relax him a bit. It’s just a lot of pressure. He has such visions of what this is going to be … I still think this is going to be a great year.”
Starting in McGuirl’s place was Miguel, who recorded eight points, three rebounds and six assists in the starting spot. Alongside Miguel were Pack, Massoud, junior Kaosi Ezeagu and fifth-year Mark Smith.
Other players with serious playing time were junior Markquis Nowell (11 points), sophomores Davion Bradford (8 points) and Luke Kasubke (3 points) and freshman Logan Landers (0 points).
Though just a 15-point win, the Wildcats dominated from the start just until the end, as they let the Mavericks cut a 26-point lead down to 15 in the final minutes. The game started with a 15-2 K-State lead where all five starters scored in the first four minutes.
“Our main mission was to get better and to improve from one game to the next,” Weber said.
Looking ahead, K-State prepares to take on No. 16 Arkansas in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City on Tuesday, Nov. 23. Depending on the outcome of that game, K-State will take on either Cincinnati or Illinois.
“We’re not going to out-score them, we’ve got to defend them, we’ve got to out-rebound them, we’ve got to play harder than they do,” Weber said about playing Arkansas. “Then let the offense come. If we make the right plays, we’ll be fine. It’s a great challenge. It’s fun.”
K-State takes on the Razorbacks at 8 p.m., with the game airing on ESPN News. Catch up with the Collegian all season long for K-State men’s basketball recaps and other content.