For most teams with NCAA Tournament aspirations, the best thing they can hope for early in the season is an opportunity to give the entire roster some meaningful minutes. That’s exactly what Kansas State was able to do in a one-sided season opener - and it’ll hope for a similar outcome Tuesday as it hosts UMKC.
The Wildcats weren’t seriously challenged in Friday’s 83-45 triumph over American, breaking out to a 19-5 lead and cruising from there. No Kansas State player logged more than 28 minutes, and eight reserves saw action as the bench outscored the Eagles’ backups 26-13. Five players scored in double figures for the Wildcats, who shot 54.7 percent from the field while connecting on 12-of-22 attempts from deep. UMKC opened its season with a 52-point loss to No. 8 Wichita State and a 51-point win over NAIA foe Haskell.
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ABOUT UMKC (1-1): Everything that went wrong for the Kangaroos in their humbling defeat to the Shockers - capped by a dismal 27.7-percent performance from the floor - was quickly forgotten just two nights later, as UMKC shot better than 50 percent from the field while forcing 28 Haskell turnovers, including a school-record 20 steals. Xavier Bishop’s team-leading 12 points per game pace three UMKC players in double figures, while Mo Ahmed adds nine points and 4.5 rebounds. Ahmed had 18 points on 6-of-6 shooting against Haskell after being held scoreless in the loss to Wichita State.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (1-0): The Wildcats will be a difficult team to curtail if they distribute the ball as successfully as they did in their season opener, racking up 22 assists on 29 made field goals. Kamau Stokes led the way with seven assists in the rout, and said afterward: “It was great. We moved the ball pretty well, got moving, got quick easy shots and today we made shots and I can only get assists if they make the shots, so credit to them and I will keep attacking.” Junior forward Dean Wade is expected to pick up some of the scoring slack this season - and he obliged in the opener, pouring in a team-high 17 points.
1. Kansas State has opened 3-0 or better in 12 of its previous 14 seasons.
2. The Wildcats are one of 14 Division I teams with no more than one senior on the roster.
3. Wade had 17 or more points just five times all of last season.
PREDICTION: Kansas State 96, UMKC 56