Fort Hays State connected on 55.2 percent from the field, including 58.6 percent in the second half, as the Tigers posted an 81-68 win over Kansas State on Tuesday night in front of a limited capacity crowd of 519 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
Fort Hays State got contributions from across the board, as six Tigers scored in double figures led by a 16-point, 11-rebound effort from senior forward Jared Vitztum. Five players had at least one assist, including 5 each by freshman Quinten Rock and redshirt freshman Kaleb Hammeke, while four had at least two 3-pointers.
The game, which was scheduled on Sunday after K-State’s game with Butler in the Big 12/Big East Battle was officially cancelled due to COVID-19 issues within the Butler program, was K-State’s first regular-season meeting with a Division II team since a matchup with Fort Hays State in 2009.
FHSU seized the momentum early, breaking a 6-all tie with 8 consecutive points, including back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Alvin Thompson and Rock, to force an early K-State timeout at the 12:14 mark.
K-State (1-4) slowly chipped away at the lead, closing to within 27-25 on a pair of free throws from freshman Seryee Lewis with 1:41 before halftime. However, a 3-pointer by Hammeke on the next possession helped ignite an 8-4 run by FHSU to end the half for a 35-29 halftime advantage.
The Tigers continued their momentum to start the second half, scoring 13 of the first 19 points to push their lead to 48-35 and force a timeout by Wildcat head coach Bruce Weber at the 15:39 mark.
A 3-pointer from senior Mike McGuirl helped start a 7-4 spurt by K-State and close the gap to 52-42 with 12:45 to play. However, FHSU once again had an answer, as Vitztum knocked down a 3-pointer to push the Tigers back out to 13 points just before the media timeout with 11:58 remaining.
The Tigers would push the teams to as many as 21 points in earning their first win in the series since 1938.
K-State connected on 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field, including a season-low 19 percent (4-of-21) from 3-point range, while hitting on 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the free throw line.
McGuirl led all scorers with a career-tying 22 points on 7-of-9 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while sophomore DaJuan Gordon and freshman Selton Miguel added 11 and 10 points, respectively.