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Wildcats beat Owls in opener despite sluggish halfcourt offense

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Transition offense carries Kansas State over Kennesaw State.

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

The Kansas State Wildcats scored smoothly on their first couple of possessions Friday night against the Kennesaw State Owls, but after that, the men’s basketball team made things harder on themselves. The Wildcats looked sluggish and sloppy in the halfcourt offense for the rest of the first half, and the Owls recorded a number of blocks.

Thankfully for K-State, their defense created a lot of live turnovers, which they turned into plenty of fast break points, leading to a 31-27 halftime lead.

Things didn’t change much after halftime, with K-State depending on transition baskets to carry the offense, but the Wildcats were finally able to claim a double-digit lead with 7:30 left in the game, 47-37.

From that point, K-State put the gas on a bit, pushing the lead to 17 with under 3 minutes left, at which point the Wildcats coasted to a 56-41 victory to improve to 1-0 on the year.

K-State was without junior Xavier Sneed, the result of a tweaked ankle.

Senior Kosta Jankovic of Serbia was the only player to reach double figures for Kennesaw State, scoring 10 on 3-of-7 shooting.

The Good

The transition offense was excellent. Barry Brown Jr. loves to run the court, and everyone on the team knows it. With about 7 minutes left in the game, Dean Wade grabbed a defensive rebound, and after he secured it, he heaved a pass most of the way down the court to Brown, who made the fast break basket.

The Bad

Kamau Stokes struggled mightily with 2 points on 6 shots, aggravated by 4 turnovers. Stokes scored his first basket of the season with about 3 minutes left in the game. On the plus side, Stokes did contribute 5 assists and 3 steals.

The Ugly

K-State’s shooting from both 3-point range and the free throw line were atrocious. The Wildcats made only 1-of-13 (8.3 percent) 3-pointers and 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from the charity stripe.

Player of the Game

Both Brown and Wade would be easy choices, leading all scorers with 15 points each and playing well overall, but tonight the honors go to newcomer Austin Trice. Trice only scored 6 points, but he added 12 rebounds in just 14 minutes.