Can the excitement of hiring a new football coach affect a basketball team? Probably not, but something sure seemed to, as the Wildcats fell behind early to a 2-5 Longwood team. K-State allowed a barrage of 3-point shots in the opening ten minutes, with the Lancers knocking down 71-percent of those shots in that time. Meanwhile, K-State struggled with turnovers and missed shots on their own end. A Michael Jefferson trey put the Lancers up by nine with 10:51 left in the half. Jefferson scored 16 points, 11 of which came in the first half.
"That was a very difficult ballgame to sit through," coach Jim Wooldridge said. Coming off a loss to Washington State on Saturday, Wooldridge said he was disappointed he did not prepare the Wildcats to play any better against Longwood.
The Wildcats regained the lead on a Mario Taybron fast-break dunk, made possible by two swatted shots courtesy of Serge Afeli. A couple trips down the floor later, Afeli found Martin open underneath the basket, even though Afeli was flat on his stomach.
Afeli had drawn cheers in his opening games, but he seemingly cemented his status as "fan favorite" against Longwood. Afeli blocked three shots and pulled down 10 rebounds in the first half alone.
Afeli's performance drew praise from Wooldridge, who was encouraged to see that effort from his Ivory Coast transfer. "He was playing at a different speed than everybody else," Wooldridge said. "We got a lot of energy out of him. That was real positive."
If K-State could have played half as well in the first half as they did in the second Monday night, a mercy rule may have had to been created. A quick moving offense and stifling defense helped the Wildcats open the half on a 44-12 run through the opening 16 ½ minutes.
The second half may have seemed impressive to some, but Wooldridge said the Wildcats should have played that well throughout the game.
"I don't like to see my team play that way," Wooldridge said of the first half effort.
Lance Harris led the Wildcats with a career-high 26
points, while Cartier Martin added 13, and David Hoskins and Mario Taybron each scored 12.
Wooldridge said some changes might take place before the Wildcats play Michigan State on Wednesday. In particular, he said the starting lineup or the playing rotation might receive a makeover. "We'll look at it pretty hard," Wooldridge said.
No players in post-game
Wooldridge did not have any of his squad attend the post-game media conference. He said he did not feel they would have had anything worth talking about.
Player of the game
He did not lead the team in scoring, but Serge Afeli made a definite impact against the Lancers. Afeli not only put up quality numbers (11 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals) Monday night, but his energetic play gave the team the spark it needed take back the lead in the opening half. Rebounding and defensive presence are the two areas in which K-State needs the most assistance down low, and the more Afeli can show his prowess in those areas, but more he'll see the floor.
Tyler Hughes was seen putting in some extra shooting practice with assistant coach Ben Kelso before the game. Kelso seemed to be stressing better form on shots from around 10 feet with the junior.