MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State scored 53 points on 64.3 percent shooting after halftime, as the Wildcats used another second-half rally to pull away from Monmouth, 73-54, on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State (3-0) has now trailed at the half in all 3 games this season and rallied in the second half to win.
Down 29-20 at the half to a veteran Monmouth (1-2) squad after shooting just 28.6 percent (8-of-28) from the field, including 0-of-10 from 3-point range, the Wildcats scored the first 9 points of the second half en route to a 37-6 combined run over the first 14 minutes of the half. The run enabled the squad to flip the 9-point halftime deficit into a 57-35 lead with 5:56 to play. Six different players scored in the pivotal stretch, including 9 by senior Makol Mawien and seven each by senior Xavier Sneed and freshman Montavious Murphy.
The Wildcats are now averaging 43.7 points on 54.2 percent (45-of-83) shooting, including 41.4 percent (12-of-29) from 3-point range, in the second half this season compared to just 19 points on 29.9 percent (26-of-87) shooting, including 3.1 percent (1-of-32) from 3-point range, in the first half.
Sneed was one of two players in double figures for K-State, which is off to a 3-0 start for the fifth consecutive season. Sneed led the way in scoring for the second straight game with 15 points on 5-of-10 field goals to go with a career-tying 5 steals and 6 rebounds in 34 minutes. Mawien nearly had his second double-double of the season with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting and a team-high 9 rebounds in 17 minutes. Three others – Murphy and juniors Cartier Diarra and David Sloan – each had 8 points, as Diarra added a career-high 7 assists and 4 steals.
The Hawks, which connected on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field in building a 9-point lead at half, hit on just 26.9 percent (7-of-26) in the second half. They became the third consecutive opponent to not reach 60 points against the stingy Wildcat defense, which is allowing just 54.7 points on 34.2 percent shooting this season.
K-State registered 17 steals on the night, which were the third-most in school history and the most since team tied the program record with 19 steals in a win over Northern Arizona on Nov. 20, 2017.
Senior reserve Ray Salnave led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
The Wildcats finished the game at 46.4 percent (26-of-56), including 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from 3-point range, and converted on 70.8 percent (17-of-24) from the free throw line. The team set or tied season-highs in a number of categories, including points (73), field goal percentage (46.4), assists (17) and points in the paint (38).
HOW IT HAPPENED
The slow start to games continued for K-State, as the team missed their first 6 field goals before a fast-break dunk by senior Xavier Sneed off a steal by junior Cartier Diarra gave the Wildcats their first points and tied the score at 2-all just 4 minutes into the game.
A 3-pointer by senior Deion Hammond on the next possession broke the tie and ignited a 9-2 run by Monmouth, including 6 in a row, that gave the Hawks an 11-4 advantage at the 12:35 mark.
A jumper by junior Levi Stockard III broke the scoring drought for K-State on the next possession, as the team slowly chipped away at the deficit. An 8-0 run, including 5 in a row by freshman DaJuan Gordon, gave the Wildcats their first lead at 16-13 with 5:57 before halftime.
Monmouth responded quickly to retake the lead, scoring 16 of the next 20 points, to take a 29-20 advantage into the locker room at halftime. In the last 4:47 of the half, the Hawks outscored the Wildcats, 11-2.
Monmouth connected on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) from the field, including 42.9 percent (3-of-7) from 3-point range, in the first half. Three players scored at least 6 points, including a game-high 9 by reserve Ray Salnave.
The Wildcats shot just 28.6 percent (8-of-28) from the field in the opening half, including missing all 10 of their 3-point field goals. Sneed led the team with 6 points and 4 rebounds, while Gordon added 5 points and 2 boards.
In what has been the case in the first 2 games, K-State came out with better energy to start the second half and rattled off 9 consecutive points to tie the game at 29-all at the 16:46 mark. Sneed opened the 9-0 run by ending the drought from 3-point range on the first possession then continued with a jumper from freshman Montavious Murphy and 4 consecutive free throws from senior Makol Mawien.
After a free throw gave Monmouth the lead at 30-29, K-State went on a 14-3 run over the next 5 minutes to take a 43-33 lead capped by David Sloan jumper at the 11:16 mark. During the pivotal run, which was started by a corner 3-pointer from Murphy, five different Wildcats (Murphy, Diarra, Sneed, Stockard and Sloan) scored field goals.
The offensive explosion continued after a pair of free throws by the Hawks, as the Wildcats rattled off 14 straight points to take a 57-35 advantage with 5:56 to play. Again, five different players (Diarra, Mawien, Murphy, Sloan and Sneed) recorded field goals in the 14-0 run.
The veteran Monmouth squad battled back to within 59-46 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Salnave with 3:47 to play, but K-State responded with a 6-2 run capped by a thunderous alley-oop dunk by freshman Antonio Gordon from Diarra to push the lead back to 65-48 with 2:23 remaining.
The Hawks got no closer the rest of the way, as the Wildcats scored 8 of the last 11 points en route to a 73-54 win.
K-State connected on 64.3 percent (26-of-56) from the field, including 44.4 percent (4-of-9) from 3-point range, in the second half to go along with a 13-of-16 effort from the free throw line. Sneed and Mawien each scored 9 points after halftime to lead the Wildcats, while Diarra and Sloan added 8 points each.
Monmouth was held to just 26.9 percent (7-of-26) shooting in the second, including 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from 3-point range. The Hawks were led by Salnave’s 11 points.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Xavier Sneed led the Wildcats in scoring for the second consecutive game with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and a career-tying 5 steals in 33 minutes of action.
Fellow senior Makol Mawien had a near double-double with 11 points on 3-of-5 field goals to with a team-high 9 rebounds in just 17 minutes of action.
STAT(S) OF THE GAME
17 – K-State tallied 17 steals on the night, which tied for the third-most in a game in school history. It was the most since tying the school record with 19 steals against Northern Arizona on Nov. 20, 2017.
37-6 – K-State used a 37-6 run over the first 14 minutes of the second half to flip a 29-20 deficit into a 57-35 lead with 5:56 to play.