Men’s basketball defeats California, Wildcat’s second-straight win

The K-State men’s basketball team defeated UTRGV 93-59 on Nov. 7th. (Archive photo by Jersey Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State men’s basketball advances to 2-0 after defeating California 63-54, with coach Jerome Tang becoming the fourth consecutive first-year head coach to win their first road game.

The first nine minutes saw fairly even play. Both defenses took over for much of early play until the Wildcats went on an 11-point run. The burst allowed the Wildcats to gain a 15-point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the half. This lead would be held by K-State throughout the rest of the game.

California made sizable runs, creating pressure on the Wildcats offense to produce; however, senior forward Keyontae Johnson and senior guard Marquise Nowell made large impacts in offensive scoring and defensive rebounding.

California pushed back in the second half, going on an 11-point scoring run up until the final five minutes. Nowell broke the run and capitalized with a 4-point play to push the Wildcats out on an 8-point run, leading to their eventual victory.

Johnson made his presence known, leading the team in both points (16) and rebounds (9). Nowell also had a productive day with 13 points and seven assists.

“We wanted to play a road game — not a neutral site game — but a road game,” Tang said after the game. “So we could experience some adversity. You never want to go through what we went through in the second half, but it’s the only way you learn and get better. I thought the last game [vs. UTRGV] we only played about 17 minutes of what we are capable of and today I thought we were really good in the first half until the last possession.”

The second half was a test for the K-State offense. Although they did not put up the best statistical numbers, they rallied and were able to push through with a win.

“This is a great team win. A great road win.” Tang said. “We battled through adversity when they went on their run. But that last 5 minutes, we call that ‘the five to grind’ and we tried to get as many stops as possible. We came together, talked it out, and decided what we needed to do to win.”

The Wildcats will return to Manhattan for their next match at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, in Bramlage Coliseum to play against the 0-2 University of Missouri-Kansas City Roos.