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K-State leans on defense in 69-58 victory over Vanderbilt

Posted: 8:44 PM, Dec 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-23 02:44:51Z
Southern Mississippi v Kansas State

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Makol Mawien scored 15 points to lead four players in double-figures scoring, Kansas State turned up its trademark defense and the Wildcats beat high-scoring Vanderbilt 69-58 on Saturday night.

Barry Brown Jr. and Kamau Stokes added 12 points apiece, and Cartier Diarra had 10, as the Wildcats (9-2) forced 15 turnovers while holding the Commodores (7-3) to 32-percent shooting from the field and 7 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Kansas State struggled to adjust to life without injured star Dean Wade earlier in the week against Southern Miss. But the Wildcats looked much more comfortable without their top scorer against a tougher opponent from the SEC, improving to 8-1 in Wildcat Classic games in Kansas City.

Matt Ryan hit four 3s and scored 14 points to lead the Commodores. Joe Toye had 11 points and Simisola Shittu added 10.

Vanderbilt rolled into the Sprint Center, where the Wildcats are accustomed to playing the Big 12 Tournament, averaging more than 83 points and fresh off an upset of No. 18 Arizona State.

Kansas State's brutal defense and some inept offense put the Commodores in an early hole.

They came up empty on 11 of their first 13 possessions, and had as many turnovers as points (four) midway through the half. It wasn't until Shittu's basket with 6:01 left that Vanderbilt reached double-digits in scoring, and the Commodores still faced a 30-20 halftime deficit.

Commodores coach Bryce Drew didn't come up with any solutions in the locker room, either. His team didn't hit its first field goal of the second half until there was 9:41 to play.

By that point, Kansas State had extended its lead to 49-30.

Vanderbilt finally went on a run, scoring 11 straight to nip into its deficit. And after Mike McGuirl's basket for Kansas State, the Commodores scored five more to get within 51-43 with 6:14 left.

It was at that point Diarra checked back into the game for the Wildcats, and the sophomore guard got them back on track. He sliced through the lane to pick up a foul and made both free throws, then he drilled a 3-pointer from the wing to restore a 58-45 cushion with four minutes left.

Kansas State buckled back down defensively to put the game away.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt had no problems scoring in its 81-65 victory over the Sun Devils earlier in the week. In fact, the only time the Commodores had failed to reach 75 points in a game this season was against North Carolina State, when their offense never got going in an 80-65 defeat.

Kansas State needed a 24-2 second-half run to beat Southern Miss, but the Wildcats showed they can still cause big trouble for the Big 12 even with Wade on the sideline. Remember, their top scorer also was sidelined by an injury when the Wildcats made their Elite Eight run last season.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt returns home against Tennessee State next Saturday.

Kansas State plays George Mason next Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.