MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State showed a glimpse of its potential on the offensive end, as the Wildcats connected on 50 percent or better from the field in both halves to out-muscle a determined Omaha squad, 79-64, on Wednesday night before 5,259 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
In a complete reversal of the nail-biter from last season, in which, K-State won 60-58 on a 3-pointer by then freshman Selton Miguel with 9.7 second remaining, the Wildcats (2-0) led from start to finish against the Mavericks (1-2). K-State led by as many 26 points before Omaha scored 13 of the last 15 points to close the gap.
K-State was efficient on the offensive end, converting on 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, and knocking down 14 of 16 free throw attempts. The Wildcats had 18 assists on their 28 made field goals while scoring 34 points in the paint.
Seven Wildcats had at least 8 points, including four double-digit scorers with 15 points each from sophomores Ish Massoud and Nijel Pack and 11 for both fifth-year senior Mark Smith and junior Markquis Nowell. Big men Kaosi Ezeagu and Davion Bradford combined for 16 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Miguel dished out a team-best 6 assists in his first start of the season, while Pack added 5.
The Wildcats connected on 54.8 percent (17-of-31) of their field goals in the first half with 10 assists to build as much as a 21-point lead then followed it by knocking down 50 percent (11-of-22) of their shots in the second half with 8 assists to build as much as the aforementioned 26-point advantage. It marked the first time the team shot better than 50 percent in both halves since a win against Milwaukee on Dec. 11, 2020.
The defense, which showed promise in the opening win over Florida A&M on November 10, struggled at times against an Omaha team that nearly overcame a 29-point deficit against Ball State on Saturday. Although the Mavericks only shot 34.7 percent (23-of-66) from the field, 11 of their 23 field goals came on 3-pointers, while they took advantage of some sloppy Wildcat turnovers to score 20 points.
Omaha junior Kyle Luedtke came off the bench to lead all scorers with 16 points on 6-of-14 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Five other Mavericks had at least 6 points, including 8 each by seniors Sam’i Roe and Darrius Hughes.
The win gave K-State a 2-0 start for the seventh time in the last 8 seasons but for the first time since the 2019-20 season. The Wildcats have now started 2-0 under head coach Bruce Weber in 8 of his 10 seasons.
K-State could not have scripted a better start, as a different starter scored on each of the Wildcats’ first 5 field goals to build as much as a 15-2 lead before Omaha called a timeout at the 15:17 mark. The team hit on their first 7 field goal attempts before a 3-point miss by Massoud with 14:34 left in the first half.
The Mavericks, much like they did on Saturday, continued to play and slowly chipped away at the lead, scoring 16 of the next 25 points, to close to within 24-18 at the under-7 media timeout. The Wildcats answered with an 11-0 run to again force a Mavericks’ timeout with 3:47 before halftime in 35-18 lead. Four different players had at least one field goal in the run, including 5 points from Massoud.
After Omaha once again cut the deficit to 42-26 at the break, K-State opened the second half with 7 straight points capped by a 3-pointer from Pack for a 49-26 advantage. A 3-pointer from sophomore Luke Kasubke made it 58-36 at the media timeout with 11:41 to play.
The Mavericks made one final push with a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 12 points at 58-46 and force head coach Bruce Weber to call at timeout with 9:07 remaining. However, the Wildcats were able to finally finish the game off by scoring 19 of the next 24 points, as Pack and Nowell combined for 16 points, including four triples.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Sophomore Ish Massoud scored all 15 of his team-tying points in the first half, knocking down 5-of-10 field goals, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, to go with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Sophomore Nijel Pack claimed leading scorer honors for the second straight game, tying Massoud with 15 points on 5-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range to go with 5 assists (to 1 turnover) and 1 steal.
STAT OF THE GAME
52.8 – K-State connected on 52.8 percent (28-of-53) from the field, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, and hit on 87.5 percent (14-of-16) from the free throw line. The Wildcats shot 50 percent or better in both halves for the first time since Milwaukee on Dec. 11, 2020.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“We’d make a big run then we’d rotate some people and then they’d make a big run. We’re learning about our team and figuring it out. I’ve said since the beginning that we have good shooters, if we get open shots, we’re going to make them, which we did. I’ve said since the beginning that we would struggle with turnovers, and we has 16 tonight. We did pretty good, we did good things. I believe we have good depth. We’re going to have to learn rotations, who can we play and with who? I was happy our big guys gave us good production and that’s been one of my worries but between Kasoi (Ezeagu) and Davion (Bradford), you have 16 points and 11 rebounds. That’s pretty good from two big guys. We made improvement. That was our mission, to make improvement from a week ago from Pitt State to Florida A&M and to this game. Each game is a little different. They (Omaha) really pushed the basketball, and they get up on you. I think our second group, they weren’t ready for that speed. They got us a little bit. My only disappointment was the finish. Instead of winning by 15, it should’ve been 20 or 25. But I think they are feisty, and they come back. I think the best thing we knew about them was how they came back against Ball State (from down 29 points) so we could keep saying that in the huddle. But I think about the 5-minute mark, we lost a little bit of our focus, and you wish we would’ve had that killer instinct to really put a team down and enjoy a victory instead of me not being happy.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State moves to 2-0 on the season for the seventh time in the last 8 seasons, but for the first time since 2019-20… The Wildcats are 2-0 to start the year for the eighth time in 10 seasons under Bruce Weber.
- K-State is now 4-0 all-time against Omaha, all at home… All 4 meetings have come since 2014.
- K-State is now 117-13 in non-conference play at home dating back to 2006-07, including 108-11 at Bramlage Coliseum.
- K-State is now 395-137 (.742) all-time at Bramlage Coliseum, including 256-79 (.763) since 2001-02.
- K-State used a starting lineup of sophomore Nijel Pack, fifth-year senior Mark Smith, sophomore Selton Miguel, sophomore Ismael (Ish) Massoud and junior Kaosi Ezeagu… This marked the first time using this lineup this season… Ezeagu, Massoud, Pack and Smith each started the first game… Pack has now started in all 26 games in his K-State career… Ezeagu earned a start in his 10th career game at K-State… Massoud now has 10 starts in his college career… Smith now has 82 starts in his college career.
- Senior Mike McGuirl came off the bench to see his streak of consecutive games started end at 35.
- Three Wildcats – freshman Maximus Edwards, sophomore Seryee Lewis and junior Carlton Linguard, Jr. – did not play due to injury… Lewis is out for the season.
- K-State scored 79 points on 52.8 percent shooting (28-of-53), including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, and connected on 87.5 percent (14-of-16) from the free throw line… The team shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) in the first half and 50 percent (11-of-22) in the second half… It marked the first time the Wildcats connected on 50 percent or better in both halves since Milwaukee (12/11/20).
- Starters accounted for 57 of the 79 points on 65.2 percent (21-of-32) shooting.
- K-State had 18 assists on 28 made field goals.
- K-State saw its first 5 field goals made by a different starter.
- Seven players had at least 8 points, while four players scored in double figures.
- The teams combined for 39 points off turnovers with Omaha converting K-State’s 16 turnovers into 20 points, while K-State scored 19 points off of Omaha’s 11 turnovers.
- K-State scored 34 points in the paint.
- Eight of the 12 players had at least one field goal made, while 5 had at least one assist.
- K-State led 42-26 at halftime after connecting on 54.8 percent (17-of-31) from the field… Sophomore Ish Massoud led all scorers with 15 points in the first half on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range… Six different Wildcats had at least one field goal.
- Sophomore Ish Massoud tallied his first double-digit scoring game at K-State, collecting 15 points on 5-of-10 field goals, including 3-of-6 from 3-point range, and knocking down both free throws… Also added 6 rebounds and a pair of blocks… It was his 12th career double-digit scoring game.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack tied for the team lead with 15 points on 5-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists (1 turnover) and a steal in 20 minutes… He has now led the team in scoring in 13 career games… He has now scored in double figures in 18 career games… He has knocked down at least 3 triples in 14 career games.
- Senior Mark Smith posted double figures for the second straight game with 11 points on 4-of-5 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws… He also added a game-high 8 rebounds and 2 assists in 25 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 42 career games.
- Junior Markquis Nowell registered his first double-digit scoring game at K-State with 11 points off the bench on 2-of-8 field goals, both 3-pointers, and 5-of-6 free throws… He also added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 21 minutes.
- Sophomore Selton Miguel was solid in his first start of the season with 8 points, a team-high 6 assists and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.
K-State returns to action on Monday night, as the Wildcats play No. 16/16 Arkansas (3-0) in the second game of the Hall of Fame Classic presented by Hotels.com at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. The game will air on ESPNews 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game around 8 p.m., CT.