Iwundu leads K-State past Maryland-Eastern Shore 80-53
MANHATTAN, Kan. -- On the heels of a tumultuous season a year ago, one that led to the departure of Kansas State's leading scorer and three role players, Wildcats coach Bruce Weber didn't know what to expect from his new-look roster in its season opener.
With 10 new faces, he asked only for effort and a team-first mentality.
By that benchmark, mission accomplished -- and more.
Wesley Iwundu scored 14 of his 23 points in the second half and finished with 10 rebounds, and Justin Edwards added 17 points to help Kansas State beat Maryland-Eastern Shore 80-53 Friday night.
"We wanted to take care of the ball, play strong and figure out how to attack a zone. But the biggest thing is that we wanted to come together as a team, because this is important -- worry about the team and winning," Weber said. "I think we did that when you talk about hanging in there and making plays."
Barry Brown had 17 points for the Wildcats, who held UMES to 30 percent shooting and overcame poor shooting from beyond the arc (5 of 23).
Despite the final score, the Hawks found themselves lingering around midway through the second half. Devin Martin's jumper with 7:59 left cut the UMES deficit to 57-45 before Kansas State used a 23-5 run, including three 3-pointers by Brown, to seal it.
Iwundu and Edwards led the charge during Kansas State's second-half run, finding open players and driving inside for statement dunks. The duo will be expected to lead the Wildcats this season after playmaker Marcus Foster transferred to Creighton during the offseason.
"Wes is just playing much more confident, going to the basket and getting a body on somebody to try to finish, to get to the free-throw line," Weber said. "Justin last year would get tentative at times, but they've both adjusted this season."
Neither team could generate much offense in the early going. A 3-point play by Bakari Copeland pulled the Hawks within 19-15 midway through the first half, but they made just one of their next nine field-goal attempts and committed five turnovers over the next nine-plus minutes and went into the half trailing 35-21.
Martin led UMES with 18 points while Copeland scored 14 and grabbed eight rebounds.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Iwundu said, "but it'll only get better."
BACK IN BUSINESS
D.J. Johnson returned to game action for the first time in 16 months after breaking his foot against Kentucky in a 2014 NCAA Tournament game. The injury required two surgeries, and Johnson received a medical redshirt for last season.
Johnson averaged 3.5 points and rebounds per game in his last full season, when he made 33 appearances. He had five points and six rebounds Friday night.
Kansas State: The Wildcats are 22-2 in season openers at Bramlage Coliseum. ... Friday's matchup was the first of two opening games of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. Kansas State will feature in the championship round of the tournament on Nov. 23-24 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri... Weber announced the signing of four-star high school recruit Xavier Sneed on Wednesday.
UMES: The Hawks won 18 games last season, more than the three previous seasons combined (15) and the most in a single campaign since 1973-74 (27). UMES returns two starters and five other lettermen from that squad.
Kansas State: Home against Columbia on Monday
UMES: At Missouri on Sunday