MANHATTAN (TNS) — Of all the positives that came out of Kansas State’s 83-45 annihilation of American on Friday at Bramlage Coliseum, the strong debut of Makol Mawien ranked at the top.
Mawien, a junior-college transfer playing his first game in a K-State uniform, had an encouraging start as the Wildcats’ starting center. He scored 12 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked two shots.
K-State appears in good shape at most positions, with Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown, Xavier Sneed and Dean Wade all back after helping the team win 21 games and reach the NCAA Tournament last season. But a giant question mark looms down low.
At least it seemed that way before the season began. Mawien helped ease some of those concerns with his solid effort against the Eagles.
“It was huge,” Weber said of Mawien’s effort. “His first few minutes were a little tentative, then second run he got going and blocked shots and got nine rebounds. He is going to have to play stronger against better competition, but this is his debut on a Division I game and it was positive.”
He was efficient in all areas, scoring his points on seven shots in just 19 minutes of action. But his best stretches came on defense. He showed off his shot-blocking skills throughout the first half, at one point causing a shot-clock violation by swatting a floater to the corner.
It’s no given that he will play that well every night this season. American, a Patriot League team coming off an 8-22 season, is one of the weakest teams on K-State’s schedule.
Still, the Wildcats liked what they saw.
“We lost a lot last year between D.J. (Johnson) and Wesley (Iwundu). I feel like Makol can come in and do a lot of positive things that D.J. and Wes did,” Stokes said. “He can rebound, play hard inside and do a lot of little things.”
Wade was also at the top of his game, scoring 17 points on just seven shots. American came out playing with confidence and took a 5-2 lead in the early moments, but Wade hit a three to tie the score and then another to send the Wildcats on a 17-0 run.
The game was all but over at that point, and K-State coach Bruce Weber was able to experiment with different lineups and empty the bench as the clock ticked away in the second half.
Cartier Diarra came off the bench to score 13 points, while Brown and Stokes both had 10.
Sneed only scored eight points, but most of his buckets came on highlight plays. That included K-State’s first points of the season, which he delivered on an alley-oop dunk from Stokes.
The Wildcats will try to build off their start in their next game against UMKC on Tuesday.
They will hope for another strong game like this from Mawien.
“It was a pretty good debut for me,” Mawien said. “It was a fun day. It was a fun game for us. I am looking forward to the next one.”