Kansas State returned to its defensive roots in earning its first win, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 17-0 lead and rode it to a 62-58 win over Kansas City on Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats (1-2) led wire-to-wire in claiming the 19th win in 20 all-time meetings with Kansas City (2-2), which entered the game averaging 103.0 points after posting wins over NAIA Culver-Stockton (138-97) and Division III Greenville College (138-97) before a 71-66 loss to SE Missouri State on Saturday to start the season.
K-State used its defense and energy to jump out to the 17-0 lead, holding Kansas City without a field goal for more than 8 minutes to seize the advantage. During this opening stretch, four different Wildcats scored points, including 5 points each from freshmen Nijel Pack and Selton Miguel.
Kansas City was able to finally get on the board with a 3-pointer from senior Marvin Nesbitt, Jr., just before the second media timeout at the 11:50 mark. The triple – the first back-to-back treys – helped the ‘Roos get going offensively, as they outscored the Wildcats, 23-16, the rest of the half to close the gap to 33-23 at the break.
In the second half, the Wildcats were able to build a 46-31 advantage on a Gordon layup and free throw by freshman Davion Bradford with just 12 minutes to play. However, a veteran ‘Roos squad with 3 seniors and a junior in its starting lineup were able to claw back into the game, scoring 9 of the next 12 points to close to within 49-40 with just under 8 minutes to play.
With the momentum on Kansas City’s side, K-State took advantage of its opportunities at the free throw line, converting on 9-of-10 attempts, including a stellar 7-of-8 effort from sophomore Kaosi Ezeagu, to build the lead back to 58-48 with 3:47 to play. Ezeagu entered the game just 3-of-10 from the line this season.
The ‘Roos continued to attack down the stretch, closing to 58-52 on a 3-pointer from senior Brandon McKissic and 1-of-2 free throws from junior Franck Kamgain just 40 seconds later. However, a free throw by senior Mike McGuirl and a jumper by Pack pushed it back out to 9 points at 61-52 with 1:42 remaining.
McKissic, who led all scorers with 24 points, capped his outstanding performance with a triple at the buzzer to close out the scoring in the 62-58 loss.
It marked the 97th time under head coach Bruce Weber that the Wildcats have held an opponent to less than 60 points in a game with the team holding an 87-9 mark in those contests.
K-State’s balanced offensive attack was keyed by 14 points each from sophomore DaJuan Gordon and Pack, while Ezeagu posted his first double-digit effort as a Wildcat with 11 points. Gordon nearly had his first career double-double with a career-high 9 rebounds to go with 2 assists and 2 steals in 36 minutes, while Pack scored in double figures for the second consecutive game on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, to go with 6 rebounds and a team-high 3 assists. Ezeagu collected 5 rebounds and 3 blocks.
For the game, the Wildcats shot 47.4 percent (18-of-38) from the field, including 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from 3-point range, and connected on a season-best 74.1 percent (20-of-27) from the free throw line.