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Kansas State basketball beats Lehigh, 77-58

Wildcats clamp down, pull away in second half.

NCAA Basketball: Kennesaw State at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

The 12th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats men’s basketball team improved to 6-0 Saturday afternoon with a 77-58 home victory over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (4-2).

K-State continued its solid offensive performance that it found in the Virgin Islands, but the defense had trouble with Lehigh in the first half, as the Wildcats led by just two at halftime, 37-35. The defense clamped down after halftime, though, as the Wildcats pushed the lead to eight by holding the Mountain Hawks scoreless for the first four minutes.

The lead only grew from there, reaching a maximum of 22 when Shaun Neal-Williams made a long 3-pointer to push the lead to 77-55 after Bruce Weber pulled the starters with about 2:30 left.

Still, this game was in doubt for more than 20 minutes, which is entirely too long. We have enough talent and experience we shouldn’t be in competitive games against teams from one-bid leagues. BotC Managing Editor Jon Morse agrees:

They gotta start burying teams in the FIRST half. I don’t WANT these games to be “exciting.”

Up next, K-State faces what looks like its toughest non-conference test, going on the road to play at Marquette (4-2) on Saturday. Before Saturday’s games, the Golden Eagles were actually ranked ahead of K-State by the Sagarin rating system.

Player of the Game

Although four starters finished in double-digit scoring, this is still an easy Dean Wade pick. He scored 18 points on just 12 field goal attempts, and he added 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block with no turnovers or fouls. He didn’t really ever take over the game, but he was excellent today.

Barry Brown Jr. was his usual productive self, but had to work really hard for it. Kamau Stokes looked like he might be back to normal-ish, even on the mainland. And Makol Mawien was quietly very good, contributing 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Lastly, on another positive note, K-State was very good from the free throw line today, making 17 of 21, good for 81 percent.