(Courtesy of Kansas State Athletics)
AMES, IA – Kansas State used scoring balance with four players in double figures and clutch free throw shooting to snap a 10-game road losing streak, as the Wildcats opened Big 12 play with a 74-65 win over Iowa State on Tuesday night in front of a limited capacity crowd of 1,337 fans at Hilton Coliseum.
The win was the first in a Big 12 opener since a 91-75 win at Iowa State on Dec. 29, 2017, while it was the first in a Big 12 road game since a 64-52 victory at TCU on March 4, 2019, which snapped a 9-game skid.
K-State (3-4, 1-0 Big 12) took control of the game with a 13-0 run over a 4-minute span early in the first half then used clutch shooting from the field and from the line to earn its third win in its last 4 visits to Hilton Coliseum.
The Wildcats were solid from the field, connecting on 44 percent (22-of-50) from the field, including 52 percent (13-of-25) in the first half, but were nearly perfect from the free throw line, converting on 26 of 29 attempts, including an 11-of-11 effort from sophomore DaJuan Gordon. The 89.7 free throw percentage was the 10th-highest with a minimum of 20 attempts in a game in school history and the highest since the team hit on 22 of 24 attempts (91.7 percent) in a win at Vanderbilt on Dec. 2, 2017.
Four Wildcats scored in double figures, including a special performance from Gordon, who earned his first career double-double with 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in a career-best 38 minutes. Freshman forward Davion Bradford earned his second straight double-digit scoring game with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting and a 4-of-4 effort from the free throw line, while reserves Carlton Linguard, Jr., and Rudi Williams added 10 points each.
K-State broke open a tight game midway through the first half with a 13-0 run after Iowa State had taken a 14-13 lead on a steal and dunk by freshman Xavier Foster with 13:48 before halftime. Four players contributed points during the run, including back-to-back 3-pointers from Linguard, as the Wildcats built a 40-26 lead at the break.
K-State held a double-digit lead for much of the second half and seemed to have an answer to any type of run by ISU. Five times the Cyclones cut the deficit to single digits only to see the Wildcats respond with either a key basket or free throws. After junior Tyler Harris’ 3-pointer cut it to 67-60 with 1:35 to play, three Wildcats (Gordon, Selton Miguel and Williams) combined to go 7 of 8 from the free throw line to close out the 74-65 victory.
The earliest conference game in school history and just the third in December marked a unique moment, as the Wildcats started three true freshmen (Bradford, Miguel and Nijel Pack) in a conference game for the first time. And although the trio weren’t as potent offensively as their last outing against Milwaukee on Dec. 11 when they accounted for 47 points, the freshmen still combined for 30 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 6 steals. In addition to Bradford’s 14 points, Miguel and Pack each added 8 points and collected a season-high 3 steals each.
Iowa State (1-3, 0-1 Big 12), which has lost 3 in a row since winning its season opener over Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Nov. 29, was led by junior Rasir Bolton’s game-high 19 points.
After allowing Iowa State to take its first lead on a dunk by freshman Xavier Foster at the 13:48 mark, K-State erupted for 13 consecutive points, including 3 straight treys from sophomore Carlton Linguard, Jr., and junior Rudi Williams, to take a 26-14 lead and force a Cyclone timeout with 9 minutes left before halftime.
After leading by double figures for most of the second half, K-State kept Iowa State at bay in the waning minutes of the game. The Cyclones cut the deficit to 67-60 on a 3-pointer with 1:35 to play, however, the Wildcats were near perfect from the free throw line to close out the game, executing on 7 of its 8 attempts.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Sophomore DaJuan Gordon collected his first career double-double with team-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (11), while going a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
Freshman Davion Bradford posted his second consecutive double-digit scoring game with 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals and a 4-of-4 effort from the free throw line with 4 rebounds.
STAT OF THE GAME
26-of-29/89.7% – K-State connected on 26-of-29 attempts (89.7 percent) from the free throw line, which is the 10th-highest free throw percentage with a minimum of 20 attempts in school history. It was the highest such free throw percentage since hitting on 22-of-24 attempts at Vanderbilt on Dec. 2, 2017.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“I’m obviously very, very happy for our guys. A week ago, Tuesday was not a very good day. They came together. I told people that if going through the loss last week brings our team together, I’ll take all the criticism. I’ll take all the gruff. It doesn’t matter. It brought those guys together. They had a meeting after the game last Tuesday. I think that was a big step. We just realized that we got to do what we do. I thought it was just such a good team win. You look at the stats, we had four guys in double figures, plus guys with eight, eight and seven. We had great balance and made our free throws. We hoped we could take advantage of three things. One, play hard, and we won that. Deflections, loose balls and all the little plays that make a difference. The second thing was getting to the free throw line. Then the rebounding we thought could be a big difference maker. If you look at those three things, it gave us the advantage. Great job by the guys coming off the bench. Rudi (Williams) with 10. Carlton (Linguard) with 10. Everybody contributed, and that’s without making a three in the second half.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State has met Iowa State more times (17) than any opponent in a conference opener.
- This is the earliest conference game in school history and just the third in the month of December.
- The Wildcats snapped a 10-game road losing streak, including a 9-game road skid in Big 12 play, and earned its first Big 12 road win since a 64-52 victory at TCU on March 4, 2019.
- K-State is now 54-54 all-time in conference openers dating back to the start of Missouri Valley Conference play all the way back in 1914, including an 18-34 mark on the road… The Wildcats are now 11-14 in Big 12 openers, including 4-11 away from home.
- K-State now leads the all-time series with Iowa State, 142-90, including 53-51 in Ames… The Wildcats have now won 3 of their last 4 games at Hilton Coliseum… The Wildcats are now 11-6 in matchups with the Cyclones in a conference opener, including 5-4 on the road.
- The Wildcats’ starting lineup consisted of senior Mike McGuirl, sophomore DaJuan Gordon, freshman Nijel Pack, freshman Selton Miguel and freshman Davion Bradford… McGuirl, Gordon and Pack have started all 7 games this season… McGuirl has the longest current active start streak at 12 games.
- It marked the first time that three Wildcat true freshmen have started a conference game.
- K-State scored 74 points on 44 percent shooting (22-of-50), including 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from the 3-point range, and connected on 89.7 percent (26-of-29) from the free throw line.
- It marked the 10th-highest free throw percentage in a game with a minimum of 20 attempts in school history and the highest since hitting on 91.7 percent (22-of-24) at Vanderbilt on Dec. 2, 2017.
- K-State held a 35-25 rebounding advantage, which included a 10-5 edge in offensive boards… The 10 offensive rebounds helped K-State post a 14-2 advantage in second-chance points.
- K-State also forced Iowa State into 18 turnovers, resulting in a 24-14 edge in points off turnovers… The 24 points off turnovers were a season-high.
- K-State held advantages in points in the paint (34-30), fast-break points (6-4) and bench points (22-20).
- All eight players who played in the game also scored in the game.
- K-State scored a season-high 40 points in the first half on 52 percent shooting (13-of-25) and included a perfect 10-of-10 effort from the free throw line to lead 40-26 at halftime.
- The 14-point halftime lead was the largest of the season.
- Sophomore DaJuan Gordon paced the team in both scoring (15) and rebounds (11), hitting on just 2-of-8 field goals but making all 11 attempts from the free throw line in 38 minutes… It marked his first career double-double… It was his 10th career double-digit scoring game, including his fourth this season.
- Freshman Davion Bradford scored 14 points on 5-of-7 field goals and a 4-of-4 effort from the free throw line with 4 rebounds in 30 minutes… It marked his second consecutive double-digit scoring game.
- Junior Rudi Williams scored 10 points on 3-of-4 field goals, including 1-of-2 from 3-point range, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists… After scoring just 7 points in the first 3 games, he has 41 in the last 4 games.
- Sophomore Carlton Linguard, Jr., scored 10 points on 4-of-4 field goals, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range… It marked his first career double-digit scoring game.
- Freshmen Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack each posted a season-high 3 steals.
K-State will return home on Saturday afternoon to start a 4-game homestand with a visit from No. 2/2 Baylor (4-0) at 3 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.