While Kansas State wraps up its nonconference schedule with a Wednesday matinee against visiting Radford in Manhattan, Kan., fans have started dreaming about reaching “the Big Dance.”
Following the program’s best start in six seasons, first-year coach Jerome Tang didn’t wait until March to start dancing.
Following K-State’s 71-56 victory over Nebraska last Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., Tang danced on the court facing the student section. He said he couldn’t help himself.
“Just look at the students,” Tang said when asked about his dance moves. “They’re on Christmas break, (but) that student section was incredible. I mean, how do you not dance for that? Man, this is so much fun. I know at some point in time this thing is going to level off. But right now, it’s pretty darn good.”
That’s primarily because of Florida transfer Keyontae Johnson. Johnson earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second time this season after his impressive effort in the win over Nebraska. He posted game highs for both points (23) and rebounds (11), along with a career-high-tying four steals. It was his seventh career double-double with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, including his second as a Wildcat.
Johnson and Markquis Nowell are averaging 31.8 points per game combined on 48.3 percent (115-of-238) shooting.
Radford (6-6) comes into the game on a three-game losing streak. All three losses were by fewer than 10 points, including two one-possession games. Against Eastern Kentucky in their last game, the Highlanders led for the first 34 minutes before falling 67-65. They matched their season high with 17 turnovers.
Radford has six players with at least 7.0 points per game, including three guards averaging in double figures, led by Kenyon Giles with 12.2. Villanova transfer Bryan Antoine has 10.0 points and 1.8 steals per game.
“Last year we had our challenges being able to get out in transition to create easier baskets,” coach Darris Nichols told the Roanoke Times before the season. “Some of the guards we have, I think they’re better finishing around the rim and getting out in transition.”
The Wildcats won’t be looking past Radford.
“Our focus is to make sure that our guys don’t go home before we play that game,” Tang said. “Everybody’s going to have Christmas. The difference between Christmas and a merry Christmas is a win, and so that’s what we’re going to be locked in on.”
–Field Level Media