Kansas State Sophomore wingman Selton Miguel scored all 10 of his points between the 12:49 and 9:17 marks of the second half to open up a 10-point margin against the visiting Florida A&M Rattlers in a game that, until then, had featured seven ties and 12 lead changes. From there, the Wildcats kept the Rattlers at arm’s length, getting up by as many as 13 before winning 67-57.
The ‘Cats trailed for over 10 minutes of game time, though their largest deficit was 4. Missed layups were a key culprit. In the first half, K-State made 9 of 29 shots, including 6/14 from 3-point range and an unimaginably bad 3/15 inside. Despite shooting only 31% overall and being out-rebounded 20-17, K-State somehow led by three at the break, 33-30.
The Wildcats settled down in the second half, making 57% from the floor, including 9-13 inside the arc. Two three-pointers by Miguel and another by Nijel Pack—his fourth in a team-leading 18-point game—broke the game open and kept the Rattlers at bay. Pack showed a quick, smooth release on his deep shots. He also followed his own miss after leaving a runner short in the lane, tipping the ball through the rim when nobody blocked him out. His 18 points came on an efficient 6-11 shooting night, and he added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals to fill up the columns of the stat sheet.
Senior transfer Mark Smith scored 12, giving K-State three double-digit scorers. Nine of the ten ‘Cats who played in the game scored points.
Florida A&M’s M.J. Randolph gave Florida A&M its last lead with a layup at the 13:28 mark, preceding the Miguel run. Randolph was the star of the game, creating shots over mostly decent defense to pour in 27 points. Jalen Speer was the only other Rattler in double-figures, with 10.
Three in the Key
- Jitters over now? With so many new faces, we might have expected nerves to play a role in the first game. The new Cats did not turn the ball over much early (only 5 in the first half), but they struggled to make shots in traffic and got out-hustled for rebounds and loose balls until Bruce and the staff straightened them out at halftime.
- Try-too-hard Mike. Super senior Mike McGuirl had a forgettable night. He scored only three points on 0-6 (0-3 from three) shooting. He had the highest usage rate on the squad, by far, at 41.81%. He was the only player with a negative effectiveness rate, at -1.0. We know by now that Mike is streaky. The good news is, this team may have the talent to take offensive pressure off of Mike, freeing him up to do the little things that make a team work.
- Newcomer debuts—check. “We got better in the offseason” is a common K-State refrain. With only one game of evidence, it may be too early to make such a bold prediction, but there are positive signs. Stretch-four Wake Forest transfer Ismael Massoud played 26 minutes, scoring 5 points (including a smooth 3-pointer), grabbing 3 rebounds and playing mostly acceptable defense. Smith was second-high scorer, with 12, and second in rebounding to Miguel’s 7, pulling down 6 of his own. He is a do-it-all player with little flash, and lots of substance. Markquis Nowell, a fearless 5-8 point guard transfer from Arkansas-Little Rock, showed quickness and strength, finishing layups in traffic and knocking down both of his free throws to contribute six points in 23 minutes. His 6 assists led the team. He also shot (and missed) a three from way, way, way deep. Reportedly, he will hit some of those. Time will tell. But his best moments tonight were Harlem playground takes to score and to break down the defense for the benefit of teammates. Nowell will be a crowd favorite, and soon.
The Wildcats have a week to digest this one and make corrections before Omaha comes calling at 7:00 on November 17.