The Kansas State Wildcats started their season against No. 21 USC in Las Vegas with excellent energy but not much shooting touch as they fell 82-69 in the Hall of Fame Series in Las Vegas.
Despite the Cats shooting an abysmal 9 for 36 (25%) in the first half, much of the early action was played within a 4 or 5-point margin. K-State hung around by crashing the glass, out-rebounding the Trojans 32-22 and grabbing 16 offensive rebounds before the break. Still, it took a long three-point bucket by North Texas transfer Tylor Perry—who had previously been 0-8 from deep—to manage a 40-30 deficit at the intermission.
The Wildcats got early three-point makes from Perry and Cam Carter to narrow the margin to 40-36 less than 90 seconds into the second half, and it looked as if the game would be tight the rest of the way. But a 19-7 run over the next six minutes gave USC a comfortable 16-point cushion and made the task too tall for K-State to manage.
The deficit never quite reached 20, and the Cats kept grinding. After No. 1 overall recruit Isaiah Collier, who had demonized K-State all night with his smooth efficiency, fouled out, K-State scored 7 straight points to pull within 71-61. When Perry drilled a long 3 from left of the key to make it a 72-64 game with 2:23 to play, the Trojans had reason to sweat. But the rebounding that had been an early strength abandoned the Cats, as USC’s DJ Rodman got an offensive board and an assist to stretch the margin back to 10. Sloppy play then plagued K-State late, and the Trojans pulled away to win 82-69.
After his icy start from the floor, Perry found the range to pace K-State with 22 points, though on only 5-17 marksmanship, including 4-12 from beyond the arc. Cam Carter added 15 on 4-16 shooting. David N’Guessan finished with a double-double, scoring 10 and pulling down 10 boards.
Creighton transfer Arthur Kaluma was active, getting to the free throw line for six early attempts and scoring 6 of K-State’s first 8 points. Those were the only points he would score. He collected 9 rebounds and 2 assists, but also committed 4 turnovers and shot a ghastly 1-10, including 0-5 from outside.
For the game, the Wildcats shot 22-71 (31%), including 8-33 (24%) from three-point range. They had 14 assists and 17 turnovers.
Backcourt play was a major factor in the outcome. USC, led by No. 1 overall recruit Isaiah Collier and senior Guard Boogie Ellis staged an efficiency clinic. Collier, in his NCAA debut, scored 18 points on 7-9 shooting. He added 6 assists, though he was guilty of 6 turnovers, as well. Ellis scored 24 on 7-14 shooting, with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. K-State’s uneven play out front could not keep pace.
Coach Tang said this week that tonight’s game would be a tremendous learning experience no matter what the outcome. The lessons seem pretty fundamental. Besides shooting poorly, K-State struggled to score over USC’s size and to neutralize dribble-penetration. If the Cats can play with this level of effort and energy every night and improve shot selection and scoring efficiency, the future can still be bright for Coach Tang’s second season.
K-State will return home to play Bellarmine Friday night at 7:00.