Nov. 12, 2012
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Senior guard Donley Minorscored 17 points Monday evening at Bramlage Coliseum, and the Cardinals played a strong second half, but it was not enough as the Lamar men's basketball team fell 79-55 to Kansas State in the first game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Lamar (0-1) will now face the loser of the North Texas/Alabama-Huntsville game on Tuesday evening at 6 in the consolation game of the Midwest Regional. The host Wildcats, who are now 2-0 on the year, will play the winner at 9 p.m.
After trailing 43-15 at the half, the Cardinals shot 57.7 percent from the floor in the second half to outscore the Wildcats 40-36 after intermission. Minor scored 12 of his points in the second half, while redshirt freshman Rhon Mitchell scored all 15 of his points after the break.
"We were scared in the first half," said LU head coach Pat Knightabout his team's poor start. "I have eight new guys and that (K-State) is a very good team. I knew it was going to be tough. The thing I was worried about, though, was would my guys compete for at least one half.
"A lot of teams would have just quit after that first half because they beat us thoroughly. I thought my guys did a good job to compete and that's a big deal. I have to look at this as a positive because being at a smaller school; you have to play games like this. I don't condone losing, but I'll take away most of the positives when you're playing a team like that."
K-State led by as many as 31 points early in the second half, but Lamar used a 22-11 run over a 10 minute stretch to cut the lead down to 20 at 65-45 with 7:51 to play. The Cardinals, who committed 26 turnovers in the game, would get no closer the rest of the way.
The LU turnovers not only translated into 25 more field goal attempts for the Wildcats, but K-State enjoyed a huge 34-7 advantage in points off turnovers and a 15-2 edge in fast break points as many of Lamar's miscues turned into transition buckets.
The Wildcats used their superior size and length to build a 25-13 rebound margin in the first half. However, the Cardinals played more inspired in the second half and outrebounded K-State 24-15 over the final 20 minutes of the contest.
Lamar trailed 15-0 with 15:40 to play in the first half before Osas Ebomwonyi finally hit 1-of-2 free throws to put the Cardinals on the board. It would take another 2:15 before freshman Donnell Mintonknocked down a jumper for the Cards' first field goal of the game.
Rodney McGruder buried a 3-pointer to cap a 20-6 run that gave the Wildcats a 35-9 lead with four minutes to play before halftime. McGruder, who finished with nine points in the game, hit a jumper at the halftime buzzer to give the Wildcats a 43-15 advantage.
Minor, who just missed out on his career-high of 18 points, hit 5-of-8 from the floor and 3-of-3 from the free throw line. He would add five rebounds and three assists, but was also one of two Cardinals to finish with six turnovers in the game.
After missing his only shot attempt in the first half, Mitchell hit 6-of-7 in the second half, including a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. He would add a team-high six rebounds in the game in 24 minutes of playing time.
Senior forward Stan Brown, the only returning starter for the Cardinals this season, scored all 11 of his points in the second half. Minton led Lamar with five assists, while fellow freshman guard Keilan Blankshanded out four helpers.
Point guard Angel Rodriguez led all scorers with 19 points in just 20 minutes of work for the Wildcats. Will Spradling finished with 14, making four treys as K-State was 11-of-26 from beyond the arc.
Senior forward Jordan Henriquez added eight boards and six of the Wildcats' eight blocked shots in the contest.
The loss snapped a six-game winning streak for Lamar in its season openers and is the first season-opening loss for LU head coach Pat Knightin five contests. Lamar also fell to 1-2 all-time against Kansas State.