ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands – No. 12/11 Kansas State scorched the nets for 95 points on 55 percent shooting, as the Wildcats opened play in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam with a 95-68 win over Eastern Kentucky on Friday night in front of 2,162 fans at the UVI Sports & Fitness Center.
With the win, the Wildcats (3-0) advance to the semifinals to take on reigning Ivy League champion Penn (4-0) at 6:30 p.m., CT on Sunday. Oregon State (3-1) and Missouri (2-2) will play in the other semifinal contest.
After relying on its defense in the first two games, K-State showed its offensive firepower in the win over EKU (2-2), collecting its highest point total since also scoring 95 against Wake Forest on March 14, 2017 in the NCAA First Four in Dayton, Ohio. The team scored 58 of their points in the second half on 59.5 percent shooting (22-of-37), which was the most by a Bruce Weber team and the most by the Wildcats since 2008.
Overall, the Wildcats connected on 55.2 percent (37-of-67) of its field goals, including 66 percent (33-of-50) from inside the 3-point line. The 50 points in the paint were the most by a K-State team since 2010.
Junior Xavier Sneed paced five different players in double figures, as he scored 16 points on 6-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, while sophomore Cartier Diarra and senior Dean Wade added 14 points each. Seniors Barry Brown, Jr., and Kamau Stokes also registered double figures with 10 points each, as 12 of the 14 available Wildcats scored at least one field goal.
Junior Dujuanta Weaver led the Colonels with 12 points, while senior Nick Mayo added 11.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After Eastern Kentucky scored on its first possession, K-State used a 9-2 run capped by a pair of free throws by Brown to take a 9-4 lead at the 14:45 mark. The advantage grew to 17-11 after a layup from sophomore Mike McGuirl on a corner assist by Trice with 12:09 before halftime.
With the Wildcats leading 21-15 after a basket by sophomore Cartier Diarra, the Colonels used a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to just 23-22 on a basket by junior Lachlan Anderson with just under six minutes to play. However, Sneed ignited a 12-2 run with a follow-up shot after a Diarra miss that gave K-State a 35-24 with 1:43 to play. During the run, five different players scored, including four from Sneed.
A Sneed basket, his fourth of the first half, ended the half for the Wildcats, as they took a 37-28 advantage into the break. Eight different players scored, as the team connected on 50 percent (15-of-30) from the field with 22 of their 37 points coming in the paint. EKU connected on 33.3 percent (10-of-30) in the opening half.
Sneed continued his hot shooting to start the second half, as he buried a back-to-back 3-pointers to give K-State a 43-33 advantage at the 18:10 mark. A 3-point play by EKU’s Nick Mayo closed the gap to 47-41 with 14:51 remaining, but Diarra caught fire from field, personally scoring 10 points during a 12-0 K-State run to take 59-41 lead with 12:30 to play.
After a basket by the Colonels, the Wildcats scored 12 of the next 15 points to extend the lead to 71-46 after a layup by Wade with 9:45 remaining. An 8-2 spurt by EKU closed the deficit to 19 with just seven minutes remaining, but K-State quickly rebuilt the lead, pushing it to a game-high 31 points with 1:46 left.
K-State scored 58 points after halftime on 59.5 percent (22-of-37) shooting, including 65.5 percent (19-of-29) from inside the arc, while EKU scored 40 on 44.1 percent shooting (15-of-34).
Diarra was the only player to score in double figures in the second half with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, as all 14 available Wildcats saw at least two minutes of action.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sophomore Cartier Diarra scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half, as he connected on 6-of-11 field goals to go with 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 25 minutes. He personally accounted for 10 points during a 12-0 K-State run that gave the Wildcats a 59-41 lead with 12:30 to play.
STAT OF THE GAME
50 – K-State scored 50 of their 95 points in the paint, as the Wildcats connected on 66 percent of their field goals inside the 3-point arc. The 50 paint points were the most under Bruce Weber and the most since 2010.