By Erik Stone
Wesley Iwundu scored 23 points to lead three Kansas State players in double figures as the Wildcats opened the 2015-16 season with an 80-53 victory over Maryland Eastern Shore Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
With both teams struggling from the floor, the game was fairly close early on as K-State led just 13-12 with 12:54 left in the first half but an 11-3 run widened the margin to 25-14 just six and half minutes later. Justin Edwards who had 17 points on the night put an exclamation point on the first half by knocking down a three-pointer with under 10 seconds left sending the Wildcats into the locker room with a 35-21 advantage.
UMES was never closer than 11 points in the second half as Kansas State turned on the steam. The third Wildcat in double figures was newcomer Barry Brown, a Freshman from St. Petersburg, Fla. who also had 17 points. Dean Wade, the Freshman from St. John, Kan. chipped in with eight points. However, the most exciting entry into the game happened in the first half with D.J. Johnson seeing his first action in 602 days, since K-State’s loss to Kentucky in the second round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Johnson made an immediate impact by completing a three-point play just seconds after coming off the bench much to the delight of the fans who turned out for the opener.
K-State was able to win handily despite sluggish shooting. The Cats shot 38 percent for the game and made just 24 of 62 shots attempted from the floor while also missing 14 free throws. However, the Hawks weren’t much better going 14-47 for a paltry 29 percent.
Kansas State (1-0) will return to the Bramlage hardwood on Monday to face Columbia out of the Ivy League. The Lions last season took a Kentucky team that was undefeated into the Final Four to the wire at Rupp Arena. The game will be the back end of a doubleheader with the K-State Women who were 73-67 winners in their opener Friday night at Tulsa. The Women’s game with Abilene Christian will tip off at 5:30 p.m. while the Men’s game is expected to start around 8 p.m.
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