K-State’s Rally Falls Short in First Exhibition, 82-75


ROME, Italy
– The Kansas State men’s basketball team dropped the first game of its exhibition tour of Italy and Switzerland on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats could not finish off its double-digit comeback in an 82-75 loss to LCC International University at the Stella Azzurra Sports Complex.

Down by as many 18 points in the fourth quarter, K-State closed to within 79-73 with 1:09 to play after five straight free throws from freshman Xavier Sneed, who was one of two Wildcats to notch double figures with 11 points. The score crept even closer after a steal and lay-up by senior Carlbe Ervin II cut the deficit to 79-75 with 25.2 seconds remaining. However, LCC International was able to close the game out from the free throw line.

"I was definitely pleased that our players continue to battle after dealing with some very difficult travel issues and almost no sleep over the last two nights," said head coach Bruce Weber. "I thought the game was good for us to deal with some adversity and learn more about our team. Developing toughness is one of our main goals for the trip and certainly tonight's game has helped in that regard. We are on this trip to get better as a group and most importantly give some of the new players minutes and experience so they can be ready to play this Fall. Overall, I thought the players gave pretty good energy -- we did not finish plays when we needed to in the game. Our opponent shot the ball unbelievable from 3-point range and we will have to learn how to defend the 3-ball better in the future especially versus FIBA competition."

Senior D.J. Johnson led the way with team-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (10) on 6-of-8 shooting, while Sneed added 4 rebounds and 2 steals to his 11 points off the bench. Ervin notched an impressive all-around game in gaining the start at the point with 8 points, 9 rebounds, a team-high 5 assists and a pair of steals. Ervin and Johnson were joined in the starting lineup by senior Wesley Iwundu and sophomores Barry Brown and Dean Wade.

"I was really pleased with the play of D.J. and Carlbe," said Weber. "D.J. to have a double-double and Carlbe to add 8 points, 9 rebounds and lead us in assists was great from two of our seniors. They were also our leaders on the Play Hard Chart. We will need to get better consistency from other players as our trip continues tomorrow night."

K-State connected on 37.2 percent (29-of-78) from the field, including just 24.2 percent (4-of-24) from 3-point range, to go with 56 rebounds, 10 steals, 9 assists and 2 blocks. Brown and Wade, along with sophomore Kamau Stokes, felt the effects of a long nine-hour flight from Atlanta, as the trio combined for 23 points on just 27.3 percent shooting (9-of-33), including 25 percent (3-of-12) from long range.

The game went back and forth early, as LCC International led 21-20 after the first quarter with Wade leading the way with 5 points and 3 rebounds for K-State. The opposition slowly started to widen the gap in the second quarter, pushing the lead to 43-34 before taking a 63-50 lead after three quarters behind a strong 3-point presence. 

They continued to push their advantage in the fourth quarter before the Wildcats closed to within striking distance. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Maurice totaled all 7 of his points and all 5 of his rebounds in the final quarter, while Johnson added 6 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Sneed also added 5 of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

The contest was the Wildcats’ first of five scheduled exhibitions on its 10-day tour of Italy and Switzerland, which was delayed by more than a day after flight complications. The travel party did not arrive in Rome until 10:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday with many not sleeping much on the nine-hour flight from Atlanta. The team was able to enjoy a short tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum before leaving for the game.

All five exhibitions will utilize FIBA (International Basketball Federation) rules, which include four 10-minute quarters and a 24-second shot clock among several variations from the college game.
K-State returns to action on Thursday evening, as the Wildcats play BC Silute at 6:30 p.m. local time/11:30 a.m. CT at the Stellar Azzurra Sport Complex.