Albany entered Wednesday’s game versus Kansas State with only one win on the season. Yet K-State, for the better part of 14 minutes, was determined to keep the overmatched visitors within striking distance.
That’s because the Wildcats couldn’t stop giving the ball away, with 11 turnovers in Wednesday’s first half.
Eventually, K-State overcame its miscues to take a dominating 71-43 win at Bramlage Coliseum.
“Obviously it wasn’t a stellar first half,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “The turnovers, just some of (them) were unforced. You don’t catch the ball, you step out of bounds twice, Selton (Miguel) gets the rebound and throws it in the back court — those are five, six possessions that if you cut those down, (with) the way we’ve shot the ball lately, you’re hoping to add 8-10 points on it. Now it’s a whole different game at halftime.”
At the 6:35 mark of the first half, the contest was knotted at 17-all; by that time, the Wildcats (4-2) already had committed nine turnovers. But they had just two more before they trotted into the locker room for intermission.
Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that K-State outscored Albany 12-3 in the final six minutes of the first half to take a 29-20 advantage into the break.
The Wildcats kept their foot on the Great Danes’ (1-6) throat in the second half, extending their lead to as many as 28 on three separate occasions, which included the final score.
Paired with Sunday’s win over North Dakota, K-State has posted back-to-back victories after going 0-2 (losses to ranked foes Arkansas and Illinois) at the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City, Mo.
Three Wildcats finished with double-figure point totals in the victory, led by Nijel Pack’s game-high 17 on 6-of-11 shooting (5-for-8 on 3-pointers). Mark Smith had 14 points (4-for-7 from the field and 2 of 3 on 3s) and Miguel had 12.
Smith and Miguel also had stellar nights on the boards. They tied for the game high in rebounds, pulling down 10 apiece. It marked the first double-double of Miguel’s career. It also was the first time two Wildcats had double-doubles in the same game since March 2014.
“It feels pretty good,” Miguel said. “Coming back from my injury, just doing what Coach has said since the summer, ‘Rebound the ball.’ So I was just trying to do what he wants me to do.”
De’Vondre Perry was the only Great Dane to break into double-figures. He had 11 points and made five of his 10 field goals, but went 0-for-4 from distance.
Perry’s lack of success from deep wasn’t an anomaly.
Albany only hit 31.5% of its shots from the field, including a 1-for-18 effort (5.6%) on 3-pointers. The Great Danes hit their first long-range shot of the night but missed their final 17. The 3-point percentage is the second-worst ever by a K-State opponent; Oklahoma made just one of its 21 attempts on Jan. 21, 1993, a conversion rate of 4.8%.
It also continued a stingy stretch for K-State, which gave up only 42 points to North Dakota State in its previous contest. It’s the first time since December 2015 the Wildcats have held consecutive opponents to under 50 points.
“That’s something we’ve been locked in on in practice,” said Pack, referring to the team’s defense. “Each game, we’ve been talking about improving. Just got to keep getting better. We know our opponents, our coaches do a good job of scouting to just prepare for the games, and then we’ve just got to go out and execute.”