MANHATTAN — Bruce Weber understands the inconsistency behind his team’s offensive attack thus far this season, especially the higher-than-expected turnover numbers that have slowed scoring within his signature motion offense.
But the tide turned in Kansas State’s way Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats got a much-needed boost on a season-high 24 assists on 28 baskets en route to a 72-43 win over Troy.
Will Spradling and Marcus Foster each scored 14 points to lead the way. It is the ninth time in 10 games that Foster has reached double figures for the Wildcats (7-3).
“Almost every basket we had an assist,” Weber said. “Great job sharing the basketball and moving it. We attacked the zone a little better.”
Antoine Myers had 12 points and Wes Hinton added 10 to pace Troy (4-4).
“Their team coming into this game had been struggling offensively,” Troy coach Phil Cunningham said. “If you look at their percentages and you watch them on video, they’ve had some guys who have been struggling but are way overdue. Our team did too, but (Kansas State) came out of it today.”
Despite its undersized roster, Kansas State dominated the Trojans on the boards, grabbing 17 rebounds on the offensive end and 44 total.
Kansas State entered the game with the Big 12’s best scoring defense at 61.2 points while also holding opponents to 26 percent shooting from 3-point range. Eight of the Wildcats’ 10 opponents have scored fewer than 65 points.
The strong defensive effort was in full display as the Wildcats held Troy in single digits for much of the first half.
“We did a pretty good job defensively,” Weber said. “We controlled the boards and turned them over. We were pretty active and much better than we were on Tuesday night (against South Dakota).”
The Trojans finished at 36.2 shooting while converting on just 3-19 from 3-point range.
“They’re so consistent defensively,” Cunningham said. “They really took us out of everything we tried to do in the first half.”
The Wildcats left little doubt from the start. Seven points from Foster backed an opening 14-2 run by the Wildcats over the first four minutes of the first half.
“When I score, I score in bunches,” Foster said. “You might see me score nine or 12 points in a row. It is something that you can expect out of me.”
The scoring run was aided by a clean and crisp Kansas State offense that didn’t see its first turnover until the 9:58 mark of the first half. The Wildcats finished the game with only eight turnovers.
The Wildcats used a dozen assists to break apart the Trojans’ 3-2 zone and score 18 first-half points in the paint.
Kevin Thomas was the lone Trojan to score until a Kelton Ford basket made it 24-9 with 6:10 left in the half.
Kansas State shot 40.5 percent from the field in the first half and pulled down an impressive 28 rebounds. The number was evenly split on both ends of the floor.
“We’ve been much better since the beginning of the season just in rebounding overall,” Weber said. “We put a lot of time into boxing out and they’ve watched film and they’ve realized how it’s effective. We stayed with five guys coming to the glass.”
Troy’s 15 first-half points were its lowest output since facing Arkansas State last season.
Kansas State used another strong scoring run to open the second half, pushing its lead to 50-17. The 33-point margin was the largest of the contest.
The Trojans added back-to-back 3-point baskets from Hinton to cut the Wildcat lead to 23 points, but an 11-3 run quickly pushed the margin back to 31 points.
A pair of 3-pointers from Spradling aided the run. He added eight points in the second half, giving him his season best performance.
“I felt great all week,” Spradling said. “I have been doing well in practice and shooting the ball really well. The coaches have really been on me to shoot more. That is something I tried to do today.”
Kansas State 72, Troy 43
Thomas 3-6 2-3 8, Warren 0-1 0-0 0, Myers 5-9 2-3 12, Williams 2-11 1-1 5, Bonny 0-2 0-0 0, Mullahey 1-5 0-0 3, Ford 1-1 1-2 3, Howard 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Calhoun 1-3 0-2 2, Hinton 4-9 0-0 10, Hughes 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 6-11 43.
KANSAS ST. (7-3)
Iwundu 2-4 2-2 6, Gipson 4-7 1-2 9, Southwell 3-9 0-0 7, Foster 5-11 3-3 14, Spradling 5-12 0-0 14, Williams 3-7 1-3 7, Lawrence 1-2 0-0 2, N. Johnson 2-3 0-0 5, Schultz 1-4 0-0 3, Rohleder 1-1 0-0 2, Meyer 0-1 0-0 0, D. Johnson 1-4 1-2 3. Totals 28-65 8-12 72.
Halftime—Kansas St. 37-15. Three-point goals—Troy 3-19 (Hinton 2-5, Mullahey 1-5, Bonny 0-1, Calhoun 0-1, Myers 0-1, Williams 0-6), Kansas St. 8-24 (Spradling 4-9, N. Johnson 1-2, Southwell 1-3, Schultz 1-4, Foster 1-4, Iwundu 0-1, Lawrence 0-1). Rebounds—Troy 27 (Thomas 7), Kansas St. 44 (Gipson, D. Johnson 7). Assists—Troy 8 (Myers, Thomas, Williams 2), Kansas St. 24 (Southwell 7). Total fouls—Troy 11, Kansas St. 16.