K-State basketball tops Fort Hays State in exhibition

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Sophomore Xavier Sneed’s game-high 18 points paced four Wildcats in double figures, as the Wildcats eased past Fort Hays State, 79-56, in exhibition action on Sunday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats’ starting five accounted for 64 of the team’s 79 points scored on 58.5 percent shooting (24-of-41), including 50 percent (6-of-12) from 3-point range. Sneed was joined in double figures by juniors Dean Wade (15) and Barry Brown (14) and redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra (11).

HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats jumped out to an early advantage behind the strength of their shooting, including a 10-2 run out of the gate, spurred by back-to-back three-pointers from Sneed and Diarra on the opening possessions. Wade added a team-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half, as the team shot just over 50 percent in the first half.

Much of the K-State scoring in the first half came in the paint, as the Wildcats scored 22 of their 37 first-half points in the paint, including two dunks from Sneed that came in the result of forced turnovers. The Wildcats forced 10 turnovers in the first half, and entered the half with a 37-30 lead.

In the second half, the Wildcats continued their successful day shooting, adding back-to-back threes from Sneed and Brown, as the team shot 6-of-14 from beyond the arc in the game. Junior Amaad Wainright added to the team’s dunk totals in the second half, as he collected a miss shot and threw it down. K-State outscored Fort Hays State 15-5 in second-chance points in the game.

Defensively, the Wildcats allowed only 12 points in the paint in the game, and forced 20 turnovers throughout the game. Brown and Mike McGuirl led K-State in steals, pick-pocketing the Tigers three times each in the game. The Wildcats added five blocks in the game, two of which came from Wade.

The smothering Wildcat defense held the Tigers to just 36 percent shooting (18-of-50), including 32.1 percent (9-of-28) from 3-point range. K-State also converted 20 FHSU turnovers into 27 points.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
The leading scorer of the game, Xavier Sneed totaled 18 points in the game on 7-of-13 shooting, and added two three-pointers. He also grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds, including 2 offensive boards. Sneed only committed one turnover in the game.

STAT OF THE GAME
15 – The Wildcats scored 15 points in two separate categories, including second-chance points and fast-break points. K-State was able to outscore the Tigers 15-0 in fast break points in the game, and also took advantage of second chances, outscoring the Tigers 15-5 in second-chance points.

IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“I thought we did some very good things. I said all summer that our older guys should be some of the better players in the league. Xavier [Sneed] came back and really played at a high level. You can see that Dean [Wade] is much more confident and aggressive. We have to keep him growing and get him the ball. We wanted him to at least get 10-12 shots today and he got 10. I would have liked a few more I thought he passed up a few. Without Kamau [Stokes], Cartier [Diarra] has been pretty consistent… Barry [Brown] had some really good moments and forced a few things… We just have to get some other guys to figure out what they are good at and how they can help us. If we do that I think we will have a very very good team.”

On Xavier needs growth since last season…
“Some of it is confidence and experience… When we had our meeting when we got back from Sacramento Xavier said I understand now coach. I understand what it is about and how hard you have to work… I also thought Belize really helped him when he made that trip. I don’t know what happened. His maturity and perspective on life and basketball was so much better. He has been one of our best players if not our best player on a day to day basis.”

On having four guys in double figures…
“Based off that and thinking of Kamau [Stokes] you have a pretty good group of five. Then the only question now is what is the rest and how can they help us… I told them to just do the things you can do and gain confidence… It is slowly but truly figuring out things and gaining confidence. I figure our depth is a big plus for us but we just have to wait and see.”

K-State Forward Xavier Sneed
On his focuses going into the game…
“Playing aggressive, doing things we do in practice every day, and exploiting the defense, and some of the things they did wrong we were able to capitalize on them.”

On his main motivation from the summer and coming into a new season…
“Consistency, and having a better year of course, and having better production, and to improve every aspect of my game.”

On his confidence…
“It is a lot higher, coming through the summer and having a year of experience is really good for me, so I will know what to look for throughout the whole year, and it just really has helped me out as far as my consistency.”

K-State Forward Dean Wade
On why Fort Hays State was able to cut the lead to seven at the end of the first half…
“I think it was more us than them, we got a little lackadaisical on defense, and we kind of just got lazy. We started off the game hot, Xavier [Sneed] was in the passing lane, everything started on defense for us, but we just kind of got a little lazy on defense.”

On the lift that Xavier Sneed brings to the team…
“That’s one more person the defense has to worry about. If they help in, kick it out to Xavier, and that’s three. He is always in the passing lanes, there are always cautious about that. He is athletic, his steals are easy points for him, and he just takes it and dunks it. Playing against him, I feel like he is always on your mind, and casual passes he is taking it the other way.

Fort Hays State Head Coach Mark Johnson
On the game…
“I am proud of our guys. We really had to open up the floor and play a little bit to alleviate the pressure they put on us defensively. I thought that was the biggest thing. And then we made some shots. I think we had a stretch in the first half where we made 4-of-6 threes. When you make shots it makes you look like you are running better offense.”

On turnovers…
“We did fine rebounding. The biggest key to the game was that we turned it over 20 times. They had like 27 points off our turnovers. They did a good job pressuring us and we just could not handle the pressure and turned it over too much. We had a hard time getting our offense going and having good possessions.”

On how playing K-State prepares you going forward…
“We did not put a lot of preparation in to this game. We were more worried about what we need to keep working on. It is a great experience for our guys and we are definitely appreciative that they allow us to come here and play.”

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
• K-State is now 65-20 all-time in exhibition play, including 50-9 in home exhibition games… The Wildcats are now 44-9 in exhibition games at Bramlage Coliseum with 22 consecutive wins dating back to 2003… Overall, the team has now won 5 straight in exhibition play since 2016.
• K-State used a starting lineup of redshirt freshman Cartier Diarra, junior Barry Brown Jr., sophomore Xavier Sneed, junior Dean Wade and junior transfer Makol Mawien… Senior Mason Schoen (ankle) and junior Kamau Stokes (wisdom tooth) did not play.
• The starting five were responsible for 64 of the team’s 79 points on 58.5 percent (24-of-41) shooting, as four registered double figures led by Sneed’s game-high 18 points.
• Diarra, who earned the start in place of Stokes, again posted double-figure points (11) to go with a game-high 6 assists (with zero turnovers) and 5 rebounds in 23 minutes.
• All 13 available players saw action, as Brown led all players with 29 minutes of action.

WHAT’S NEXT
K-State concludes the exhibition play on Friday, Nov. 3, as the Wildcats play host to MIAA member Emporia State in a women’s and men’s doubleheader that begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for both games start at just $10 with a Wildcat 4 Pack (four general admission tickets) available for just $30. The men’s game, which will tip at 8 p.m., will be broadcast on FOX Sports Kansas City, K-StateHD.TV as well as ESPN3.

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