MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats saved the best for last in their first game.
The Wildcats clamped down defensively and broke away with a 15-2 spurt late in the second half Friday night to knock off Kennesaw State, 56-41, in their season opener at Bramlage Coliseum.
Barry Brown and Dean Wade led K-State with 15 points each and Makol Mawien had 13. Austin Trice came off the bench and led the Wildcats to a 42-29 rebounding advantage with 12, while Wade had eight, Mawien seven and Brown six.
Kennesaw State (1-1) missed 14 of 15 shots during the decisive K-State run.
It was a sloppy affair for the Wildcats, who shot just 41.7 percent from the field, including 1 of 13 from 3-point range, and went 5 for 11 from the free-throw line. Kennesaw State was even worse offensively, shooting 32.7 percent and turning the ball over 21 times. Kosta Jankovic led the Owls with 10 points and Isaac Mbuyamba had six rebounds.
K-State led 51-39 on Wade's free-throw line jumper with 3:38 left. Mawien's basket at the 7:30 mark gave the Wildcats their first double-digit advantage, 47-37.
K-State used an 8-1 spurt early in the second half to go up 39-31 on Wade's fast-break layup with 14:54 left. The Wildcats led 31-27 at intermission.
Mike McGuirl's 3-pointer with 1:35 left in the half, K-State's only one of the game, gave the Wildcats their four-point edge at the break. There were six lead changes and six ties in the period.
K-State shot just 40.6 percent from the field in the half to 45.8 for Kennesaw State, but outrebounded the Owls 18-15 and forced 13 turnovers.
Brown led the Wildcats with 11 first-half points. Mawien had seven points and Trice scored six and grabbed eight rebounds.
Jankovic was 3 of 4 from the field with a 3-pointer and led Kennesaw State with nine points in the half. Bobby Parker had five points and Mbuyamba five rebounds.
K-State led 4-0 on jumpers by Wade and Mawien, but 15-footers by Jankovic and
Kyle Clarke capped a six-point run that gave Kennesaw State its first lead, 11-8.
K-State went in front to stay, 27-25, on a Trice fast-break layup off a Wade steal and Trice added a free throw for a three-point advantage at the 3:10 mark. Jankovic then hit a pair of free throws before McGuirl connected.