Bruce Weber knows Kansas State will see plenty of defensive alignments this season - and he’s happy to have experienced a little variety early in the 2017-18 campaign as his team prepares to host Northern Arizona in the second game of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Wildcats remained unbeaten with a 71-49 rout of UC Irvine, a game in which Kansas State successfully overcame the Anteaters’ vaunted zone defense.
Weber was impressed with how his team dealt with UC Irvine’s different looks on defense, primarily the zone strategy. We are going to play some zones,” he told reporters after the victory. “We have to be ready to do it. If we go on the road and somebody plays zone, we cannot be tentative. You have to execute and go at it. I thought our guys did well the start of the second half.” Kamau Stokes led the way with 14 points for Kansas State, which has opened the season 3-0 for the 14th time in the past 15 years. Standing in the way of a fourth straight victory: a Northern Arizona team that has allowed an average of 93.3 points in dropping its first three games of the season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Kansas City
ABOUT NORTHERN ARIZONA (0-3): The Lumberjacks have lost two of their first three games by at least 34 points, most recently a 97-62 setback at Arizona State. Chris Bowling (11.0 points per game) is the only Northern Arizona player averaging double digits in scoring, and that average is a product of volume; the sophomore guard is shooting just 12-of-34 from the field to date. Jojo Anderson has been even worse - making just two of his 14 shot attempts - but has done plenty of damage from the free-throw line, connecting on 17-of-23 foul shots.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (3-0): Don’t expect Monday to be a get-right game for the visitors; the Wildcats come into this one ranked second in Division I in fewest points allowed per game (48.3) and field goal percentage defense (28.8). Junior forward Dean Wade (12.0 ppg) leads three players in double figures, while connecting on 4-of-5 attempts from beyond the arc and adding 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. Xavier Sneed (11.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) has been one of the team’s biggest defensive spark plugs, racking up a team-high seven steals through the first three games.
1. Kansas State has limited foes to 15.3 made field goals per game, the fewest of any team in the nation.
2. Stokes is shooting just 30.4 percent from the field through three contests.
3. Northern Arizona averages 20.7 rebounds per game, tied for 328th out of 351 qualified schools.
PREDICTION: Kansas State 86, Northern Arizona 40