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No. 12 Kansas State hopes to be mightier than Penn

Sports Xchange
18 Nov 2018, 06:45 GMT+10

It's easy to notice the 95 points Kansas State scored in its victory over Eastern Kentucky in the opening round of the Paradise Jam tournament in the Virgin Islands on Friday night. It was the most points scored by the Wildcats in nearly two years. The 58 points scored in the second half were the most by a K-State team since 2008.

But the calling card for the No. 12 Wildcats remains their defense.

Kansas State (3-0) is averaging 55 points allowed, including holding the Colonels to more than 20 points below their season average. They held the Ohio Valley Conference's leading scorer Nick Mayo to 17 points below his average.

"We kind of broke their spirit," Kansas State coach Weber told FloHoops after the game. "We talked about that at the start of the second half. We did a great job on Mayo. We rotated people. Austin Trice gave a great effort. I don't know how many rebounds he had (10), but he got a bunch."

The next team to take a shot at K-State is Pennsylvania in Sunday night's semifinals. The Quakers beat Northern Iowa in the first round. Penn improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1978-79, the year it reached the Final Four before losing to Magic Johnson and Michigan State.

"I think the reason that we won was that we concentrated, played defense, gritted it out," said Devon Goodman, who led the Quakers with a career-high 27 points against Northern Iowa. "(We) just played as the team with more energy. I think that's what we're going to be looking for against (Kansas State). We might not be the more talented group, but we bring energy. We're going to give whoever we play our hardest."

K-State struggled on offensive in its first two games, shooting 40 percent from the field including 17.5 percent from 3-point range, and 45 percent from the free-throw line. But that changed against the Colonels.

The Wildcats had five players in double figures, led by Xavier Sneed with 16 points, and saw 12 players score. They shot 55.2 percent from the field, though they still struggled from long range (4-of-17). They also shot 73.9 percent from the free-throw line.

"This is a business trip for us," Sneed said. "We got off to a great start being 1-0. I feel like we were focused throughout the game.

"I stepped up and knocked down shots. My teammates did a great job of finding me. They were pressing a lot, so I was left open."

Penn has started the season with a high-scoring offense, averaging 83.3 points per game. They've outscored their four opponents by an average of 13.5 points.

The Quakers are led by Goodman at 16.8 points per game. A.J. Brodeur averages 15.8 and Antonio Woods 11.3.

"We have a huge game with Penn," Weber said. "They were (an) NCAA team last year. They have really good players. It's not going to be easy. We are taking this like the NCAA Tournament. We have one day off. We have to prepare and defend and see if we can play with one of the best."

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