MANHATTAN (TNS) — Kansas State defeated UC Irvine 71-49 on Friday at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats improved to 3-0 with their third straight lopsided victory.
Some takeaways from the game:
Kamau Stokes had his best effort of the season
K-State's point guard got off to a quiet start this year, failing to score more than 10 points or seriously spark the offense in his first two games, but that changed against UC Irvine.
The junior successfully attacked the basket for a game-high 14 points on eight shots. He also dished out three assists and came up with two steals. Best of all, he didn't lose a single turnover. By far the most important statistic for Stokes will be his assist-to-turnover ratio this season, and this was an encouraging step.
Stokes did most of his damage from the three-point line a year ago, finishing the season as the team's top outside shooter. On Friday, he mostly worked inside. Perhaps this game will serve as a spring board he can use to show off his expanded skills in future games.
"I wouldn't say this is my best game," Stokes said. "There are a lot of games left. I played well this game. I just have to keep it going for all the other games."
K-State continues to shine on defense
Another game, another strong defensive outing for K-State. The Wildcats have smothered opponents with their defense this season, and that didn't change against the Anteaters. UC Irvine made 16 of 54 shots from the field (29.6 percent) and 4 of 20 shots from three-point range (20 percent).
Brad Greene led UC Irvine with nine points. No one else sniffed double figures. The Wildcats forced 17 turnovers.
K-State didn't allow American (30.4 percent) or UMKC (26 percent) to flirt with decent shooting games, either.
Bruce Weber has convinced this team to take pride on defense, and that appears to be where the Wildcats will try to win games this season.
"We played great defense today, throughout the whole game," Stokes said. "Our defense was clicking. We took some stuff away from them that they are very good at."
Question is: can K-State defend this well against stronger opponents?
"As we play better teams we are going to have to contain the dribble," Weber said. "They got by us a little bit. We clogged it up. I don't think they had a guy who could go make a play. As we go on in the season if we let people get by they are going to make plays. We will play some of the better teams in the country, probably next week, so I think that dribble-containment, being there to help will be important."
The Wildcats struggled against zone defense
The Anteaters went zone in the first half, and the Wildcats didn't look comfortable trying to score against the packed defense.
That was the biggest negative of the night for K-State. UC Irvine used a string of stops to recover from an 11-0 deficit and pull within 20-15.
"Definitely ugly," Weber said of K-State's zone offense. "It was the first time we had played against zone."
Levi Stockard had good moments
Weber gave all of K-State's big men opportunities to play, and freshman forward Levi Stockard took advantage with six points and three rebounds in nine minutes of action.
Stockard showed off power at the rim and finesse on mid-range shots. At one point, Mawdo Sallah sent him a bounce pass to him in the lane and Stockard calmly swished a jumper.
He took himself out of the game by committing four fouls, but it seems like he may be ready to provide meaningful minutes off the bench.