(12/16) K-State Rolls to 12th Win on Wednesday Night

MANHATTAN, Kansas – (12/16) K-State went on the offensive early and often on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum to secure an 84-52 win over Southern to conclude its regular season non-conference schedule. The Wildcats have won six straight for the second time this season and own a nine-game home court winning streak, dating back to the final two home games of the 2022-23 season.

K-State improved its record to 12-1 for the first time under the direction of head coach Jeff Mittie. This is the best start for K-State since opening the 2008-09 season with a 13-0 mark. In its history, K-State has opened a season 12-1 or better six times.

Lee, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week and All-American candidate, led the way for the Wildcats with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting including the first 3-pointer of her career. She also recorded five rebounds and three blocked shots in just under 21 minutes.

Junior guard and 2024 Lieberman Award candidate Serena Sundell strung together a diverse night with 11 points, seven assists, five rebounds and a steal in just under 23 minutes.

Freshman guard Taryn Sides tied her career high with 10 points, hauled in a career-high seven rebounds to lead the Wildcat on the glass and dished out four assists.

– K-State got off to a hot start and never looked back on Wednesday. The Wildcats shot 52.9 percent (9-of-17) from the field in the opening quarter to build a 22-11 lead.
– The Wildcats opened the second quarter with a 15-0 run to build a 37-11 lead with 5:03 remaining. K-State would outscore Southern in the second frame, 27-4, to build a 49-15 halftime advantage.
– K-State would hold the Jaguars to one made field goal in the second quarter (1-of-14; .071). The 7.1 field goal percentage allowed by the Wildcats was the lowest of the season for a quarter, while the four points were the fewest allowed by the Wildcats in a second quarter this season.
– The Wildcats extended its lead to a game-high 42 points, 67-25, with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter following a Zyanna Walker three-pointer.
– The highlight of the night came on K-State’s opening possession of the fourth quarter, as Sundell drove the lane and then passed the ball back to the top of the key, where a wide-open Lee attempted her first career 3-pointer. The ball hit the front of the rim, popped in the air grazed the backboard and slipped through the net, bringing the loudest cheers of the night.
– K-State ended the night shooting a season-high 56.7 percent from the field (34-of-60), including a season-high 44.4 percent (8-of-18) from 3-point range.

– K-State leads the series with Southern, 4-0. The Wildcats are 27-0 against current members of the SWAC.
– The Wildcats are 6-0 in the month of December. In its history, K-State is 243-103 (.702) in the 12th month and 42-18 (.700) in the Jeff Mittie era. The Wildcats have recorded a .500 or better record in the month of December 48 times including a current streak of 28 consecutive seasons.
– K-State head coach Jeff Mittie owns a career record of 630-363 (.634) and is 176-128 (.579) during his 10-seasons at K-State.
– K-State owns a record of 387-154 (.715) during its 36-seasons in Bramlage Coliseum. Head coach Jeff Mittie is 117-46 (.718) in home games with the Wildcats.
– K-State’s nine-game home court winning streak is tied for the longest home court winning streak in the Mittie era.
– K-State has won 28 straight non-conference home games dating back to December of 2020. Kansas State is 228-29 (.887) against non-conference foes, while Mittie is 74-8 (.902).
– K-State owns a record of 234-88 (.727) as an AP ranked team. K-State is 16-4 (.800) all-time when ranked 12th in the nation.

– K-State’s starting five consisted of guards: Jaelyn GlennSerena SundellBrylee GlennGabby Gregory and center Ayoka Lee. This was the 13th time this starting five has been used this season. This was the 100th career start for Lee, the 91st collegiate career start and the 45th start at K-State for Gregory, the 82nd career start for Sundell, the 78th career start for Jaelyn Glenn and the 72nd career start for Brylee Glenn.
– The Wildcats held a 49-15 lead at halftime on Wednesday. This was the largest halftime lead of the season for K-State. Under head coach Jeff Mittie, K-State is 140-17 (.892) when leading at halftime, including an 11-0 record this season.
– K-State shot 50.0 percent or better in three quarters on Wednesday night. For the season, K-State owns 22 quarters with a field goal percentage of 50.0 percent or better.
– The Wildcats dished out 27 assists on Wednesday. When K-State hands out 20 or more assists over the last 16 seasons, the Wildcats are 88-7 (.926), including a 7-0 record this season. The Wildcats have handed out 20 or more assists in six straight games.
– K-State registered a 39-27 advantage in rebounds on Wednesday. This is the 12th time K-State has outrebounded its opponent this season (11-1).

– Lee recorded her 92nd career game with 10 or more points and her 43rd career game with 20 or more points. Lee has scored in every game of her career (100 games).
– Lee hauled in five rebounds on Wednesday. Lee’s career total for rebounds stands at 993. She needs three rebounds to pass Nicole Ohlde (2000-04; 995) for second in school history.
– Sundell notched her 51st career game with 10 or more points and her sixth this season. Sundell’s career point total stands at 975. With 25 points, she will become the 45th player in school history with 1,000 or more career points.
– Sundell’s seven assists improved her career total to 423, which is tied for sixth in school history for career assists with Shaelyn Martin (2014-18; 423).
– Sundell’s five rebounds marked her 33rd career game with five or more boards. This was her seventh game this season with five or more rebounds.
– Jaelyn Glenn made two 3-pointers on Wednesday. This was her 39th career game with two or more connections from long range.
– Zyanna Walker dished out a career-high seven assists.

K-State Head Coach Jeff Mittie

On his assessment of the team in the first 13 games…
“Yeah, I think we’ve done some good things. I think we’ve played pretty solid basketball for the most part. I’ve been pleased with our progress. There’s still so many areas that we can get a lot better. But overall, I think we in the scope of things, every coach wants their team to improve and I think our group is starting to take more ownership of the locker room, more ownership of the standard, but we’re not there yet. There’s still gaps in those areas that we can get a lot better at. But overall assessment would be is that I’m pleased with our progress. And I’m pleased with the way we’ve played.”

On how the team is playing this year…
“Yeah, I don’t want to compare last year to this year because I don’t even remember it quite honestly. What I would say that I like about this particular [year] you have a wide variety of schedules this time of the year, right. And so you look at a team like Southern, you can look at the record and say that’s not a good team and you’d be wrong. It’s a good team. That team has played a schedule that is there’s no way you can play that schedule and be successful. They have played Miami, out to Oregon, they have played Nebraska, us, Baylor, Texas, at Oklahoma after us. So when you do a deep dive on teams, throw the record out this time of the year people are playing a very wide range. They had the eighth toughest schedule in the country coming into this. So anyways, what I like about our team is whatever challenge we’ve had, I think that we’ve just played the game and we haven’t spent our time focused on that. We have blocked out that noise. You’ve heard me say this, I don’t care what the score is, it’s irrelevant to us playing each possession. Same thing with our opponent, it is irrelevant. Our job is to play defensively, play very tough, very physical and communicate. Have defensive language that we practice every day. Offensively our job is to play better together and I think for the most part we’ve done that.”

On if the team is hitting it’s offensive stride…
“Well, I think that our bench got better shots. And I think that our starters had better discipline in stretches where you could maybe take some ill advised shots and I think when the game got sloppy, we reined it back in fairly quick. Now turnovers gave us a problem down the stretch, second half was not as sharp as we would have liked but I think yes, you’re correct. I mean, the shooting percentage we shot well all four quarters, that has usually not been the case, we’ve usually had one of the four that has not been very good at all. So this is a more consistent performance there.”

On the team handling a lot of attention to start the season…
“Well, I think what I want them to do is handle success and handle adversity and both can be equally tough as we’ve talked about. You got to be able to handle the pats on the back and say thank you and you’re never as great as people think you are and you’re never as bad as people think you are when you’re struggling and just know the work that we put in and I’ve been proud of our group you know. We joke about it, I use humor to kind of joke about it,  you know, after we beat Missouri I think I told them first practice ‘God you guys are awesome, you’re the best team ever that I’ve seen. It’s the best I’ve ever you know,’ and they were all going ‘yeah, whatever, we get your point’ but I said yeah, we’ve all been getting those pats on the back and they feel good, but that doesn’t change the work we have to do today. What I’ve talked to them about is that winning needs to drive you more, or playing well needs to drive you more and so many times when people play well they feel like they’re satisfied, so therefore they stop doing the things that have got them to that point. We all do it right. We all do it. I do it in my diet about as soon as I feel healthy I’m like yeah, hand me that bad stuff, right? But what I’ve been pleased with our team is they haven’t listened to the noise, they didn’t listen to the noise when we got beat by Iowa that you know, Iowa got us back, revenge. Iowa beat us but they had to play well to beat us. They didn’t beat us because any other reason they played well, our job is to give everybody our best shot and I’ve been pleased that for the most part, our team has adhered to that message.”

On what the team could improve before Big 12 conference play…
“I think tonight was a good test of guarding the dribble. This team was quick off the dribble. This team had really good penetrators that could get to the rim. I thought we played better, certainly in the middle part of the game, I thought we played really, really well in that area. Offensively, I still want to see us make quicker reads in terms of how they’re defending us. I’d like our communication offensively to get better. It’s an area that defensively our communication has gotten better, offensively we still have gaps in that those would be my two biggest areas.”

On Ayoka’s first career three pointer…
“Well, news was trickling to me that Yokie really wanted to shoot a three. I’ll say this about the position that she plays. You know, generally when the centers that I’ve coached, they all want to shoot threes, right? But they do a lot of the dirty work and they get hit in the face every other trip. And they get elbowed in the throat and they just go about their business and they work and Yokie is one of those that she gets hit a lot. So she’s earned a chance to take a three and as Yokie does things she makes it. Maybe we’ll have that in our arsenal late where maybe that’ll get on a scouting report that she’s a threat to pick and pop. So we’re still gonna run her to the block quite frequently.”

K-State Senior Center Ayoka Lee

On her first career three-pointer…
“Oh, it was definitely by design. I think I asked one of our assistants Staci [Gregorio], I was by someone on the bench and I was like, ‘I want to shoot a three, last game preseason, I want to shoot a three.’ I think we’ve earned that, you know. Asked Staci, Staci’s like, ‘I’ll suggest it,’ pass it on to another assistant, then they pass it on to coach Mittie, and then he brought the board and drew it up and it’s a play we’ve ran, like it’s a staple in our offense. So I knew what to do, Serena [Sundell] made a great pass.”

On her assessment of the first 13 games of the season …
“That’s a great question. Coach Mittie is really big on like, we’re 0-0, like going into every game we’re not going to judge a team by their record because I mean, like Southern’s a good team, they did a lot of things while they hit a lot of good shots. So yeah, I think that is a mindset we try to keep. I’m definitely proud of how we’ve just like fought through things in practice and like how we’ve prepared for the most part. And then, like, just continuing to play to our standard in these games when you know, like our reserves are in getting more minutes and that stuff.”

On the most surprising thing about the start of the season…
“I’m just gonna be honest. So new offense this year,flow, man, it was hard to like, learn that offense. And I think it was really hard for me coming back getting like acclimated into that but I’m really proud of like, when we’re like playing well, like our offense is really good. So I’m really proud of how we’ve like just continued to grow in that area.”

On the chemistry on the court between the starters…
“That’s a good question. I definitely think it’s nice to know like, what to expect, I think for my teammates and knowing like, Serena is driving okay, this is the spot I need to be in if she wants to dump it down to me. Okay, Gabby [Gregory], fake the hand off, I need to duck in because she’s gonna want to pass it to me or shoot it. So like, just like knowing those things, it just like makes a huge difference and just how we play and playing confidently and yeah, I think we have a lot of confidence in each other too. So it’s fun, makes it fun.”

On where the team could make improvements going into conference play…
“Definitely I think ball screens. I think that is something we’ve been like just inconsistent with like, when we’re locked in we guard it really well. But sometimes it’s just not like that right away, I’d say. And then I just think, like continuous defense overall, just being more consistent with our communication, especially.”

K-State Junior Guard Brylee Glenn
On watching Ayoka’s first career three…
“No, it was super fun, I didn’t doubt her first second. Once I saw it go up, it looked great. And I’m transition D, so I’m like running back, so I was able to see what it looked like, it looked good. I knew it was going in. I was too hype once it went in, like that was just the icing on the cake.”

On her assessment of the first 13 games of the season …
“I say it’s been a fun first like 13 games like Yokie [Ayoka Lee] said, he’s [Mittie] big on just looking at a record as 0-0 and even like, when we get big leads in the game, like Yokie said, playing to that standard and not playing by like, what the score is so still holding ourselves accountable and that’s what we try to do every game but yeah, it’s been fun, and it’s been, it’s been cool to see us get better every game like especially like defensively and continuing to play well together offensively. I mean, that’s been like the best part.”

On the most surprising thing about the start of the season…
“Yeah, I’m gonna run off that a little bit. One of our big things this year has been like using like the dribble less and not getting too dribble happy. So just being able to like play super well off each other and how dribbling less has allowed us to really come together as a team, talk to each other, play well and know each other’s different strengths and be able to get each other the ball. So I think that’s been the most surprising part.”

On the chemistry on the court between the starters…
“Yeah, it is really fun and like obviously the starters have played with each other two years now. So yeah, we do have a lot of chemistry but like everyone on our team gets along like so well, but like with the starters, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. So we’re able to put each other in positions where we are successful. And I think that’s been to our benefit this preseason. So yeah, I think our chemistry has helped a lot with that as well.”

On where the team could make improvements going into conference play…
“I would say communication for sure. Like it’s hard to communicate on defense especially when you get tired, but it’s just something that we have to stick with and be better at. And I would also say, just keep offensive rebounding because when we do get into conference, those offensive rebounds will get us like more points, more second chance opportunities, so staying with that because sometimes we have little lapses in that area.”

Following a break for the holidays, K-State returns to action on Saturday, December 30, as the Wildcats begin the 2023-24 Big 12 schedule at Cincinnati. Game time is set for 1 p.m. (CT).

K-State’s Big 12 opener can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ and can be heard on the K-State Sports Network, online at kstatesports.com, or on the K-State Sports app.