MANHATTAN, Kan. — As Kansas State opened up the season against American, the Wildcats brought the crowd out of their seats, not with the newly-introduced fog during the starting lineups but using one of basketball’s most exciting plays to kick off the 2017-18 season.
Kamau Stokes fed Xavier Sneed for a game-opening alley oop and Kansas State set the tone early as it opened the season with an 83-45 win over American on Friday night.
Dean Wade scored 17 points, including 15 in the first half, while newcomers Makol Mawien and Cartier Diarra netted 12 and 13 points, respectively. Meanwhile, experienced vets Stokes and Barry Brown added 10 points each.
Mawien, who transferred from New Mexico Junior College this past spring, is comfortable in what his role is on the team.
“Rebounding, play hard defense,” Mawien said. “Score inside. Playing hard all around, doing the little things.”
The Wildcats broke away with unselfish play as they connected on 14 assists through their first 17 made shots. Stokes led the effort and finished with a game-high seven assists.
“It was great,” Stokes said. “We moved the ball pretty well, got moving, got quick, easy shots. Today we made shots, and I can only get assists if they make the shots, so credit to them and I will keep attacking.”
American struggled to keep pace as the Wildcats used a 14-0 run early on in the first half to put the Eagles behind 19-5. American a lot of youth and inexperience on their team, so despite the loss, head coach Mike Brennan took some positives away from the season opener.
“We got our freshmen a lot of minutes and we gave them a lot of minutes against a really good team,” Brennan said.
“So now they know what college basketball is like and what they have to do going forward. They’ve been working at a high rate, so it’s unfair to ask freshmen to produce as much at this level, but I feel good about the group and they’ve been working their tails off so all they can do is learn from this.”
Larry Motuzis led the Eagles in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Coming off of an NCAA Tournament appearance, the season opener for Kansas State showed the offensive potential of proven vets like Dean Wade, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes. The game also gave fans a chance to see young and unproven players like Mawien and Diarra, who will look to help Kansas State reach back-to-back NCAA appearances for the first time since the 2013-2014 seasons.
American: The Eagles face West Virginia on Nov. 15.
Kansas State: The Wildcats host UMKC on Nov. 3.