MANHATTAN — The K-State basketball team (1-0) got the 2017-18 season off to a good start with an 83-45 victory over American (0-1) Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.
While there were several positive takeaways from this game, a couple of the brightest spots were the play of junior forward Dean Wade, as well as the debut of sophomore forward Makol Mawien.
Wade led the Wildcats with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and converted all three of his three pointer attempts. Mawien scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and grabbed nine rebounds in his K-State debut, while also adding two thunderous blocks in 19 minutes of play.
"(Mawien) was huge. Both of our big guys, (Mawien and graduate transfer forward Mawdo Sallah, who scored two points and grabbed six rebounds) played well. Makol's first few minutes were a little tentative, and in the second run he got going. He blocked shots and got nine rebounds. He's going to have to play stronger," K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. "This is his debut in a Division 1 gave. It was positive."
Junior guard Kamau Stokes, who scored 10 points and dished out seven assists Friday night, talked about the kind of impact Mawien could have for K-State this season.
"We lost a lot last year between (forward) D.J. (Johnson) and (forward) Wesley (Iwundu). I feel like (Mawien) can come in and do a lot of the positive things that D.J. and Wes did, like rebounding and playing on the inside," Stokes said.
Mawien gave his thoughts on his regular season debut.
"It went pretty well. As a team, everyone chipped in and worked hard. It was a pretty good debut for me. It was a fun game," Mawien said.
Weber talked about Wade's performance Friday night.
"I think he's being more aggressive. He's playing with much more confidence. I'm trying not to put a lot of pressure on him, but he's really good. He's made a lot of strides. He's going to have to do it consistently. (Wade's) good. He goes up and gets rebounds, he's taking the ball to the basket, and he shot his threes well," Weber said.
Stokes gave his impressions of Wade's performance Friday night.
"He was aggressive. That's all I ask of him. He needs to play aggressive every time. When he's aggressive, he's unstoppable," Stokes said.
The Wildcats showed terrific promise on the defensive end Friday night. K-State held American to 25 percent shooting from the field after the first half, and finished the game by allowing 30.4 percent shooting from the field. Weber talked about his team's defensive performance.
"If you look at the three exhibition games, and (Friday), we've been pretty good. We've held people down. We've been tough on them. I've been harder on this group than maybe since my first year here. They're a little older and the experienced guys can take it. I've gone longer in practice, but I think it results in being tough on defense," Weber said.
Friday night also marked the regular season debut of redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra. Diarra finished his debut game with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including connections on all four of his three point attempts. Weber talked about Diarra's debut.
"He quietly stepped up. His mom flew in from New York with his brother and little sister. It was his first time playing a college game. I thought that he was a little casual early, and then he got going. He's been really consistent. He had a few too many turnovers tonight, but in all four games, he's been pretty impressive," Weber said.
K-State will be back in action Tuesday night as it hosts UMKC at 7 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan. UMKC lost its opening game to Wichita State by a final score of 57-109.