The Kansas State men’s basketball team (6-3, 0-0) used big numbers from transfers super-senior Mark Smith, junior Markquis Nowell and sophomore Ish Massoud en route to an 82-64 win over Green Bay on Sunday, Dec. 12.
Sophomore points-per-game leader Nijel Pack returned after sitting out the past two games with a concussion. Pack recorded six points, one rebound and one assist in a 15-minute, time-limited return to action. Super-senior Mike McGuirl was out of the lineup with a non-COVID-19-related illness.
In the Wildcat’s second 80-point game of the season, K-State used ten combined three-pointers from Smith, Nowell and Massoud in the win over Green Bay. Nowell led the team in scoring with 22 — including a team-high eight assists – with Massoud scoring 17 and Smith scoring 14.
“I think all three of us are just getting more comfortable in our roles, and everyone’s starting to figure out what we can do,” Smith said about himself, Nowell and Massoud. “Obviously, we have been having some good games recently, but I just think that’s what we can bring to the table, all three of us.”
Smith finished with a double-double after grabbing a team-high 10 rebounds. Massoud almost had the most impressive night, however, as his 17 points came without a single miss — shooting 5-5 from the field, including 4-4 from three and 3-3 at the free-throw line.
The Wildcats shot 54.9 percent from the field as a team, including an impressive 52.4 percent from behind the arc. K-State’s defense limited Green Bay to just 47.7 percent shooting with 23.5 percent shooting from deep.
“We have enough weapons,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “I’ve said all along we have good shooters, but not unless we get open shots, and that’s anybody. Eleven out of 21 from three, maybe three were bad ones or questionable off the line. After watching film of Marquette and some of our other games, you don’t get more points for being 8-10 feet off the line. Get on the line. Move the basketball. Get it going side to side, then we’re able to break people down.”
Starting for K-State were Smith, Nowell, Massoud, sophomore Selton Miguel and junior Kaosi Ezeagu. Ezeagu only found six minutes of playing time after getting in foul trouble early in both halves but still recorded five points. Miguel scored six.
“Even though he is smart, mature, some of that is learning to and understanding how to prepare for games,” Weber said about Ezeagu being in foul trouble. “That was our whole theme this last few days. Be ready so you don’t have to get ready. He wasn’t ready from the start. He was a step behind everything. Coach Southwell said to me in one of the huddles, ‘Kaosi has only played three or four minutes, get him back in.’ I said, ‘It’s his fault, not my fault,’ so we put him back in, and guess what happened? About six seconds later, he got another foul. But we need him, we need everyone.”
Sophomore Davion Bradford, who has not been himself this season after contracting pneumonia before the season started, finished with six points in the big-man position. Freshman Logan Landers also saw time down-low and recorded four points.
With Ezeagu out for a majority of the game, Weber was allowed to mess with the lineup sheet, opting for a small-ball lineup for some of the contest. Leaving shooters in the game — with six-foot-nine Ish Massoud being the tallest on the court – the Wildcats were able to shoot at a higher percentage.
The game was relatively close for most of the first half – Green Bay even led 15-14 at one point – but the Wildcats pulled away in the final few minutes to take a 46-30 lead going into halftime. An uneventful second half kept the score in the 15-to-20 point lead area throughout the majority of the rest of the contest, leaving the game with a final score of 82-64.
Leading scoring for Green Bay was freshman Japannah Kellogg III with 15 points and Kamari McGee with 14 points. The Phoenix’s points per game leader, junior Emmanuel Ansong, finished with eight points, with all eight coming in the second half.
K-State has the week off to rest and take finals before traveling to Nebraska to renew an old Big 12 rivalry with the Huskers at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19. The game will air on the Big Ten Network with a recap on the Collegian after the match.