MANHATTAN, Kan. – Freshman D.J. Johnson led Kansas State with 17 points and nine rebounds from the bench as the Wildcats wrapped up its two-game exhibition season with an 81-51 win over Emporia State on Sunday at Bramlage Coliseum.
Johnson was one of four players in double figures, as sophomore Thomas Gipson chipped in 12 points to go with 10-point efforts from both senior Rodney McGruder and sophomore Angel Rodriguez. In all, 12 Wildcats scored in the contest, including 11 with field goals, as the WIldcats used a balanced attack to win its 13th consecutive exhibition contest.
After jumping out to a big lead in its first exhibition game on Tuesday, K-State was slow to get going against Emporia State, going nearly four minutes without scoring before McGruder earned the team's first points on a jumper. The game was close for a majority of the first half with the Hornets grabbing a 19-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Gavin Brown to cap an 8-0 run at the 4:52 mark.
After a timeout by head coach Bruce Weber, Gipson gave the Wildcats the lead for good 20 seconds later with a jumper that ignited a 20-4 run en route to a 38-23 lead at halftime. Gipson (eight) and Johnson (seven) combined for 15 points in the run, as the squad took advantage of its size advantage to score 28 of 38 points in the paint.
After an opening basket from Chris Sights in the second half, the K-State offense continued where it left off in the first half, as it used a 10-0 run to extend the lead to 48-25 with 17:04 left in the game. The Wildcats pushed the lead to as many as 32 in the second half behind 53.8 percent shooting (14-of-26) and 43 points.
K-State connected on 46.2 percent from the field, including just 25 percent from 3-point range, while holding a 51-26 edge in rebounding. The Wildcats dominated the paint, 50-16, while the team took advantage of 23 offensive rebounds to post a 26-7 edge on second-chance points. The team got 44 points from its bench, including 29 from Gipson and Johnson.
Emporia State shot just 38 percent from the field, including 23.8 percent from 3-point range, as the Hornets fell to 0-3 in exhibition play after earlier defeats to Tulsa and Kansas. Kaleb Wright led the way with 11 points, while Terrance Moore and Gavin Brown had nine and eight points, respectively.
Kansas State returns to action on Friday, Nov. 9, as the Wildcats officially tip off the regular season with a home game against North Dakota in the second game of a doubleheader at 8 p.m. The women's basketball team opens the year with Idaho State at 5:30 p.m. The men's game will air on the entire FOX Sports Midwest footprint and can be seen live on K-StateHD.TV outside that footprint.
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