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Recap: K-State Buries USC-Upstate Early, Coasts to 86-49 Win

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It was not supposed to be a contest. And it was not one.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Sacramento Practice
Stokes never tried to throw one down tonight. Why would he, when he’s making everything he shoots from outside?
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The outcome of this game was decided before the first media time-out.

All five K-State starters scored in the first 3:28 of the game, as the ‘Cats built a 14-0 lead against the University of South Carolina-Upstate Spartans Tuesday night. The visitors expended two time-outs before they even got a decent look at their own basket.

Upstate finally made a jumper, only to watch K-State go on another 10-0 run to push its advantage to 24-2. From the 12:00 to 8:00 mark, K-State cooled off and lost track of some shooters to surrender an 8-0 run, putting the score at 27-12. Against an opponent who entered second in the nation in 3-point attempts (312) and 15th nationally in makes per game (11.2), losing track of shooters was cause for concern.

After the 8:00 timeout, K-State locked down again, forcing the Spartans to heave two wild, long shots to avoid shot clock violations. But the offense stayed cold, and though the ‘Cats stretched things out a bit, the margin continued to hover around 20 as the clock wound down.

Kamau Stokes is just making it look easy right now. He had five three-point makes before the intermission, against only one miss. The only sore spots in the half: Dean Wade made several aggressive drives, only to come up empty when shots through contact rimmed out, and the defense did not keep closing on shooters, allowing Put-it-Upstate to get too many open looks from outside.

K-State led 43-23 at the break.

The second half opened with a couple of wide-open threes by Barry Brown, but the defensive effort that keyed K-State’s big run to open the game was lacking. Upstate hung around, on the back of open jumpers and uncontested lay-ups, brought on mostly by K-State indifference and heavy feet.

The Wildcats eventually stretched the lead to 30, at 74-44, by the under-8 timeout, and the game was a pickup-style coast after that.

At the final buzzer, K-State sent the Spartans home with a 86-49 loss. Kamau Stokes led the scoring, with 17 points on 6-8 marksmanship, 5-7 from beyond the arc. Brown added 15 and Wade 13, to round out the double-digit scorers. Five other players (Makhol Mawien, Cartier Diarra, Mawdo Salla, Ahmad Wainright and Nigel Shadd) each posted at least five.

K-State won the rebounding battle, 35-25, and posted 21 assists, while only turning the ball over 10 times. The team also shot 50.8% (30-59) from the field, and 87.5% (16-18) from the line. That kind of efficiency will win a lot of games.

More of this, please

  1. Let’s hear it for fast starts. That’s what you get when all five guys come out of the blocks being aggressive in all facets of the game.
  2. A more concerted effort to attack the boards. It was obviously a point of emphasis, as Wade, Mawien, Sallah and then the guards showed energy and aggressiveness going after the ball. It still wasn’t perfect, but the emphasis was there. That’s where it has to start.
  3. The team continues to share the ball, and to take good care of it. At the half, they had 13 assists, against only 3 turnovers. Continued efforts to maximize possessions will be necessary when competition ramps up, especially in light of K-State’s rebounding struggles.
  4. Bonus: Monster put-back dunks by Dean Wade and Ahmad Wainright. The scoreboard highlight reel needed some refreshing new footage. It has some now.

No More of this, please!

  1. Brian Patrick is a talented player with a sweet shot who is just struggling to find his way. He was at first steady when he came in, but then sent himself to the bench with three quick fouls in the first half. Games like this one are scheduled to get experience for guys who need seasoning before league battles begin. Silly fouls prevented Brian from getting those valuable minutes tonight. Rebounding has been the team’s most glaring deficiency so far. But fouls have been nearly as big a problem.
  2. After back-to-back 3’s from Barry Brown to start the second half, the defense got stagnant and surrendered several free buckets to Upstate. It is easy to lose focus in lop-sided games. But a comfortable margin should not lead to sloppiness that allows clearly inferior teams to get lay-ups and make runs. After erupting for an early 23-point lead, K-State basically played even with a much worse team for most of the night.
  3. If we’re being extra picky, it was a disappointingly quiet night for Sneed. After his best performance of the season in Nashville on Sunday, X only contributed 3 points, one rebound and an assist on Tuesday. His production was not needed, and others were efficient, so perhaps he can be forgiven for not being selfish.

K-State’s next game is Saturday at 7:00 against Tulsa, in Wichita’s Intrust Bank Arena.