An ideal start turned into a satisfying 87-54 victory for Kansas State on Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Behind 19 points from Shane Southwell and 17 points from Thomas Gipson, the Wildcats hammered the Bears for their most lopsided win of the season.
It was obvious they were on their way to a blowout from the beginning.
After giving up a layup in the opening seconds, Gipson made three straight shots, and Will Spradling and Southwell drained a pair of threes to put K-State up 12-2 with 16 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the half. Central Arkansas called a timeout to try and stop K-State’s momentum, but it didn’t work. The Wildcats went on to dominate in all phases.
“We did a good job from the start of setting the tone,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “They are a team that is a little bit dangerous, but we got them on their heels.”
The fast start was a good sign.
K-State hadn’t played in a week and it was coming off a long trip to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Throw in a small crowd with students on Thanksgiving break, and it could have been easy for the Wildcats to look lethargic. Instead, they played with energy.
“Throwing the ball down to Thomas really got them on their heels first,” Southwell said. “They had a lot of people on Thomas who couldn’t match up with his size or his strength. Getting the ball to him and scoring the first six points was big. Then we got out in transition and used our athleticism.”
They also used their size. The Wildcats (4-3) destroyed Central Arkansas (2-4) on the glass, out-rebounding the Bears 52-22.
“Gipson, he was too much of a load inside,” interim Central Arkansas coach Clarence Finley said. “He got second and third shots. They ended up with 23 offensive rebounds. You can’t overcome that.”
Weber was glad to see his team play with aggression. He was happier to see it play with poise.
After weeks of challenging K-State’s veterans to contribute at higher levels, Weber got everything he wanted from the Wildcats’ experienced players.
Southwell, a senior guard, tied his career high. Gipson, a junior forward, was dominant inside. Spradling, a senior guard, scored nine points and didn’t lose a turnover.
For once, K-State could afford for its freshmen to play like freshmen.
That was a step in the right direction. But it will hope for more on Thursday, when it faces Mississippi in the most anticipated nonconference home game of the season.
“We need everybody to play well,” Weber said. “That has got to be the kind of balance we have to be successful.”