After losing last season’s opener in the Octagon of Doom, the Kansas State Wildcats were not going to let that happen again to start the 2014-15 season.
They didn’t as they flexed their muscles in a 98-68 win over Southern Utah last Friday.
K-State did it behind a balanced scoring attack that saw six Wildcats score in double-figures, led by sophomore guard Nigel Johnson who had a career-high 18 points to go along with five assists and two steals.
In fact, three of the six Wildcats to score more than 11 points are either freshmen or sophomores.
That kind of scoring balance is something KSU fans haven’t seen under coach Bruce Weber.
It’s going to have to take that kind of balance day in and day out if the Wildcats plan on making a run for a Big 12 championship.
"“We have more offensive weapons,” Weber told KStatesports.com after the Southern Utah win. “As a staff, it will be to keep them rotating where they are all being productive. We had four guys in double figures during my first year here 16 times. Now, tonight six guys in double figures, that is big time.”"
That bodes well for KSU this year and in the years to come, and should have the rest of the Big 12 looking over its shoulders.
“We have more offensive weapons. As a staff, it will be to keep them rotating where they are all being productive. We had four guys in double figures during my first year here 16 times. Now, tonight six guys in double figures, that is big time.” — Kansas State coach Bruce Weber
Here’s another thing that should worry the other nine teams in the league: the Wildcats were minus three players that they see as contributors – Wesley Iwundu, Malek Harris and Nino Williams.
KSU’s 98 points were the most scored in the Weber era, and the Wildcats 58.7 field goal percentage was the highest by a Wildcat team since shooting 60.3 percent against North Carolina Central on Feb. 17, 2009.
Then Monday night happened.
The Wildcats nearly tripped over a much improved University of Missouri-Kansas City before coming away with an 83-73 victory.
K-State didn’t look like the same team in the first half, falling behind 23-13.
The ‘Cats turned the ball over 11 times, resulting in 13 Kangaroo points and struggled to shoot the ball against the UMKC zone.
"“The first half, they took it to us in every which way,” Weber told Kstatesports.com after the UMKC win. “The first 10 or 12 minutes, we did not have any answers for them.”"
In all, KSU turned the ball over 17 times, which is way to many times against the ‘Roos or anyone for that matter.
That is something that the Wildcats will have to clean up and quickly too.
Once they reach Maui and square off against a team like Purdue, the Boilermakers will do a better job of capitalizing off the mistakes than UMKC did.
Hopefully, having to play from behind and pulling out the win in a relatively close game will pay dividends down the road for the ‘Cats.
"“We got experience of taking care of the ball down the stretch, not fouling, being able to put away games and coming back from adversity,” Weber said."
K-State will find out where they can keep the early season momentum in its corner as they won’t see Bramlage Coliseum again until December.
K-State (2-0, 0-0 Big 12) hits the road for the first time in 2014-15, as the Wildcats travel to Long Beach, Calif., to face Long Beach State (1-1, 0-0 Big West) on Friday at 9:30 p.m. Central time.