Cam Carter scored a career-high 25 points, and K-State made 14 three-point buckets on only 25 attempts as the Wildcats drubbed the South Dakota State Jackrabbits 91-68 on Monday evening in Bramlage Coliseum.
Carter’s points came on 10-20 shooting, including 4-8 from three-point range. He also scored on several nifty drives, and had he not left a handful of shots just short over defensive pressure, he would have eclipsed the 30-point mark.
With Arthur Kaluma unavailable, 6-11 senior transfer Will McNair Jr. drew the start in the pivot. In one surprising sequence, he jumped in a passing lane on the perimeter for a steal and took it the distance for an emphatic dunk. McNair was an all-around presence all night with 10 points on 5-7 shooting, 7 rebounds, a blocked shot, 2 steals and 2 assists. Uncommon stat-stuffing for a big man. He also showcased the ability to score with his back to the basket, a skillset almost wholly lacking on K-State teams in recent years.
After abysmal shooting in the season opener against USC, Tylor Perry seems to have found his stroke. He narrowly followed Carter with 22 points on 7-9 shooting, including an incredible 6-8 from deep.
Aside from the Wildcats’ shooting prowess, perhaps the most encouraging offensive sign was the team passing. Every starter had at least one assist. Dai Dai Ames led with 7, Carter had 6, and Perry contributed 5. N’Guessan’s lone assist was undoubtedly the most picturesque, as he flipped it behind his back from the high post to avoid defenders on his right side, finding McNair along the baseline for a two-handed slam.
The K-State bench got in on the action, as well. RJ Jones converted a 4-point play in the first half and scored 14 on 4-6 (4-5 from three) shooting. He also contributed 3 assists, 2 rebounds, and a block. Fellow freshman Macaleab Rich did a nice job of bodying up and holding his defensive ground on several possessions, threw down a ridiculous dunk in a broken floor situation, and finished with 8 points.
The Wildcats did an admirable job of running double-teams at South Dakota star and Lawrence High graduate Zeke Mayo, preventing him from finding any rhythm until he scored the final five points of the first half. He got almost nothing done in the second half, though, and finished with only 11 points on 5-13 shooting. He did lead his team with 6 of its 13 assists.
K-State shot 57% from the floor, had 24 assists, and scored a whopping 40 points in the paint to go along with their 42 from three-point range. They held the Jackrabbits to 41.5% shooting (27-65), including 33% from deep (7-21).
Rebounding for this team has so far been much improved over last season, and it was strong again tonight, as the Wildcats out-boarded the Jackrabbits 38-32. N’Guessan led the Cats with 11 rebounds. The Cats also blocked 6 shots, with Jerrell Colbert’s 4 leading the squad.
One point for concern: K-State had 5 turnovers in the first four minutes of action and finished with 17 on the night. South Dakota State’s Charlie Easley led his team with 21 points and an eye-popping 6 steals.
The Jackrabbits are a good squad, picked as the preseason favorite to win the Summit League. A 91-68 win for K-State, without the services of two of its most important “bigs” (Kaluma and Nae’Qwan Tomlin), over a tournament caliber squad will certainly aid the resume on selection Sunday. K-State may not be able to count on this kind of shooting every night. But with improved defense and a well-rounded team offense, the team showed promising signs of growth in this game.
K-State will play Providence (2-0) on Friday in the Baha Mar Hoops Bahamas Championship. The game tips at 5:00 and will air on the CBS Sports Network. You can scout the Friars as they tip against Wisconsin at 5:00 Tuesday evening on FS1