MANHATTAN, Kansas (AP) — Kansas State scored its fewest points in Bruce Weber’s three-year tenure to close the Maui Invitational, so he wasn’t particularly excited to see Nebraska-Omaha, who knocked off Marquette on the road, in the Wildcats’ first game since the tournament.
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However, a near-career high performance from Nino Williams and a season-high 23 assists aided Kansas State (4-3) in its first home game in two weeks.
Williams had 19 points and Marcus Foster added 16 points as Kansas State beat Nebraska-Omaha 84-66 in the first-ever meeting between the two schools on Tuesday night.
It is already the fourth 80-point game for the Wildcats. They only surpassed the mark twice during the 2013-14 season.
C.J. Carter had 22 points to pace the Mavericks, who were held to their lowest score of the season.
Nebraska-Omaha (3-3) overcame two nine-point leads just after halftime, but 10 points from Foster in the first eight minutes of the second half never allowed the Mavericks to close within six points through the remainder of the game.
A 3-point play from Marcus Tyus closed Kansas State’s lead to 56-48 with 11:19 left, but Williams scored nine of Kansas State’s next 13 points to open a 69-50 lead.
“We were pretty good defensively,” Weber said of the stretch. “We turned them over, got some easy baskets off of it and were in the right spots. That first 10-12 minutes of the second half, we were pretty solid and we extended (the lead) to six to 10 and to 15 and kept it going.”.
The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 43-25, which led to 38 points in the paint and substantial foul trouble for the Mavericks.
Forward Jake White was out for Nebraska-Omaha and his replacement Tre’Shawn Thurman and starter Mike Rostampour both picked up two early fouls.
“Like I told our team, ‘There are some things you can control and some things you can’t,'” Nebraska-Omaha coach Derrin Hansen said. “One of those things we can’t control is that they can bring bigger bodies than anyone we’ve played. Whether that be Marquette, Nebraska or whoever, that hurt us tonight.”.
It didn’t start well for the Wildcats, as they didn’t lead until a Jevon Thomas 3-pointer with 7:32 left in the first half.
Nebraska-Omaha opened up a 16-10 lead with 11:29 left in the first half, shooting nearly 50 percent during the stretch.
However, the Mavericks’ largest lead opened up the floodgates for Kansas State.
After struggling through his first six games, Justin Edwards followed a Foster basket with a spinning layup through traffic that aided a 12-3 first-half scoring run. He also knocked in his second 3-pointer of the season.
“We didn’t play to our potential like we should have,” Carter said of letting their foot off the gas pedal. “The first we did, but they’re a great team. For a six-minute stretch, like coach said, we just fell apart.”.
The Mavericks trailed 37-31 at halftime, but Carter’s 14 first-half points kept them in range after making only four shots in the final six minutes.
Williams led the Wildcats with eight points in the first half, including the first five points of the game.
Nebraska-Omaha, who was picked sixth in conference preseason polls, leads the Summit League in points per game, field goals made per game, 3-point percentage and total rebounds.
Kansas State is now 36-0 in December home games, dating back to a 76-66 loss to Rutgers Dec. 28, 2004.
Jevon Thomas reached double figures for the first time in his Kansas State tenure, scoring a career-high 12 points. The performance surpassed a nine-point outing at Kansas on Jan. 11.
Kansas State will go to Tennessee on Saturday.
Nebraska-Omaha will play at Air Force next Monday.
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