Kansas State will try to follow up an impressive road win when it opens a three-game stretch in its home state against South Carolina Upstate on Tuesday. The Wildcats rode a career-high 21-point effort by sophomore forward Xavier Sneed to an 84-79 victory at Vanderbilt on Sunday, their third win in a row.
“I have really improved my game,” Sneed - who has at least 12 points in five of his last seven games - told reporters. “During the offseason I did a lot of work in the gym and watched film on everything I did bad and everything I did good. I just tried to really build on that ... It was just about confidence with me. I got everything going at the right time, and things are going really good for me right now.” Junior guard Kamau Stokes chipped in 20 points and six assists in the victory and he leads Kansas State - which was playing its first true road game of the season - in both categories (15.1 points, 3.9 assists). The Wildcats are 5-0 at home and will take on a Spartans team that has dropped three straight and is 1-7 against Division I opponents. Kansas State won the only prior meeting between the teams with a 72-53 triumph in 2012.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3, FSN Kansas City
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA UPSTATE (3-7): Junior forward Malik Moore leads five double-digit scorers with 14.3 points per game, and he paced the Spartans with 12 in an 87-66 loss at Gardner-Webb on Saturday. Junior guard Jure Span added 10 points and three reserves finished with nine apiece, including senior Carson Smith, who hit 3-of-4 from 3-point range in the best offensive showing of his career. Senior forward Ramel Thompkins is the team’s top rebounder with 6.1 per game but he had a season-low one to go along with five points on 1-of-4 shooting in Saturday’s loss.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (7-1): Stokes hit all six of his free throws to lead the Wildcats’ 22-of-24 showing at the line in the win over Vanderbilt. “Ironically, we haven’t shot very well at home - free throws,” coach Bruce Weber told reporters. “When we were in Vegas (for the Las Vegas Invitational last month), we shot the ball very well from the free-throw line, but those are all big plays down the stretch.” Junior Barry Brown added 18 points and he ranks second to Stokes on the team in scoring with 14.8 per game while leading the way with two steals per contest.
1. Kansas State entered Monday tied for 16th in the country in turnover margin (5.5) after committing just seven and forcing 14 at Vanderbilt.
2. This contest is the sixth in eight straight away from home for the Spartans.
3. Wildcats F Dean Wade is averaging nine rebounds over his last three games and leads the team with an average of 6.6.
PREDICTION: Kansas State 86, South Carolina Upstate 66