The Kansas State men’s basketball team (2-2, 0-0) used a great team performance to propel themselves to an 84-42 win over North Dakota on Sunday, Nov. 28.
For the first time in nearly two seasons (Jan. 18, 2020), K-State reached 80 points on the scoreboard.
Leading the way for the Wildcats was junior Markquis Nowell with 18 points off the bench, but four of the starters also reached double-figures in the contest: super-seniors Mike McGuirl (15) and Mark Smith (11), junior Kaosi Ezeagu (15) and sophomore Nijel Pack (16). Sophomore Ish Massoud also started for K-State and finished with two points.
“Hopefully, we’re starting to understand how hard you have to play, the passion you have to play, the defense you have to play,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “After watching film, challenged them and their pride. We showed them a lot, and then we had off on Thanksgiving, ate together and then came back and showed good things on Friday.”
McGuirl found himself back in the starting lineup after starting the season coming off the bench while sophomore Selton Miguel nursed a groin injury. Fellow sophomore Davion Bradford was kept off the court today as he continues to deal with pneumonia from the start of the season.
“We know Davion wanted to play,” Weber said, “but we just felt like we better wait a little bit, get some more checkups, see how he’s doing. And then Selton took a bad fall in the Arkansas game, and it’s the same injury he had when he played for the Angola National Team.”
Coming back from injury today was junior Carlton Linguard Jr., who spent a majority of this past season out with a knee injury and hadn’t seen the court this season. Linguard Jr. recorded a jump shot from the free-throw line that got the Wildcat bench to jump up in excitement.
It looked like the game might be closer than expected from the beginning, as North Dakota only trailed by 9-6 four minutes into the game. Over the next 16 minutes, K-State used an 18-2 run on its way to a 38-20 lead to finish the first half.
The second half looked a lot like the first as the Wildcats found themselves with a 50-24 lead four minutes into the frame. A 24-5 run put K-State up 64-29 with eight minutes remaining, then substitutes came in to finish the game off.
“Coach Weber preached it from the time we got in the locker room after the [Illinois] game that we need to play for each other, not just with each other,” McGuirl said. “That was a quote given to us by Max Edwards who’s right. We should play for each other, not with each other.”
Leading the way on offense for North Dakota was freshman Paul Bruns with 16 points. Bruns had 11 of his 16 in the first half before the Wildcats added a focus on the young playmaker in the second. Super-senior Bentiu Panoam was the only other Fighting Hawk to reach double-figures with 10.
As a team, K-State shot an incredible 60 percent from the field while holding North Dakota to just 29 percent. The Wildcats knocked down nine threes in the contest, also recording 21 assists to 12 turnovers. K-State ended with 46 points in the paint, compared to North Dakota’s 16.
“We had a three or four-minute period where that defense was as good as it’s been all year and as good as some of our other teams,” Weber said. “We were flying around. That was my big emphasis was play with a passion and play.”
K-State faces UAlbany at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 1 in Manhattan. The game will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, with a recap on the Collegian after the game.