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Kansas State stifles Vanderbilt, 69-58

With aggressive defense and balanced scoring, K-State leads throughout.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice
It was good times for Makol Mawien and the Wildcats in Sprint Center against Vanderbilt.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas State (9-2) led from start to finish at the Wildcat Classic in Sprint Center, beating Vanderbilt (7-3) 69-58.

The finish was not a thing of beauty, but Kansas State did plenty of things well in the game. Mostly, the Wildcats excelled on the defensive end.

In Vanderbilt’s last game, the Commodores hung 81 points on No. 18 Arizona State. They shot 44% from the floor, including 12-of-28 from outside in that game, and won 81-65. Kansas State swarmed them into 31.9% (15-47) shooting, holding them to a season-low 58 points. K-State has held 8 of 11 opponents below 60 points this season.

K-State endured its usual scoring droughts, as well, but once the lead got to double-digits, Vanderbilt never got closer than nine the rest of the way. So stifling was the K-State defense to start the second half that the Commodores did not make a field goal until the 9:41 mark. During the shooting drought, K-State’s 30-20 halftime lead grew to 49-27, the largest margin of the game.

From that point, Vanderbilt went on a 16-3 run to pull within 9. But K-State got back to a 14-point lead at the two-minute mark and held the Commodore’s off down the stretch.

Though defense was the highlight of the game, K-State was whistled for 17 second half fouls. Free throws (21-27) kept Vandy within shouting distance, and K-State missed enough charity tosses late (16-27 overall) to extend the game longer than it should have gone.

The game started as well as the Cats would have hoped. Sneed opened with a 3-pointer in perfect rhythm and a thunderous follow slam to put his team ahead 5-0. The early haymakers set the tone, and Vanderbilt never found a consistent offensive rhythm.

The Wildcats shot 41.4% from the field (24-58), including 29.4% (5-17) from outside. They outscored Vanderbilt 30-16 in the paint.

The win might have been the best overall team effort of the season. Four players reached double figures, headlined by Makol Mawien with 15, including a rare swished 3-pointer. Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown scored 12 apiece, and Cartier Diarra added 10. After scoring the first five points of the game, Sneed finished with 7. Austin Trice chipped in with 7, as well, and Mike McGuirl added 6.

Sneed led the team with 9 rebounds, while Diarra grabbed 7. Stokes had five assists, and Brown snagged three steals to pass Jacob Pullen as K-State’s all-time leader in the category, with 209 for his career.

Matt Ryan led Vanderbilt with 14 points. Simisola Shittu and Saben Lee also reached double-digits, with 11 and 10, respectively.

The team will break for Christmas now and will be back in action December 29 for their last tune-up before they open conference play at Texas January 2.