LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. —
Kansas State 87, Cent. Arkansas 54: MANHATTAN, Kan. — Bruce Weber understood his team lacked a legitimate scoring option coming into the season. Most of all, he didn’t want to depend on his freshmen for production.
After seeing freshmen lead in scoring in four of the first six games, Weber received a welcomed performance in which five returning players scored at least eight points.
Shane Southwell scored a season-high 19 points and Thomas Gipson added 17 as Kansas State defeated Central Arkansas 87-54 in the first ever meetings between the schools.
“We got the ball into Thomas right away and took advantage of our size and we made some more shots,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “I’m happy for Shane because he came into the gym and put some time in. After struggling in Puerto Rico, he got rewarded and knocked some shots down.”
DeShone McClure and Jalen Jackson both scored 12 points to pace the Bears (2-4), who are eligible for postseason play for the first time since their 2006 admission to the Division I ranks.
It was Kansas State’s (4-3) best offensive performance of the season, with a season-high in points and rebounds (52).
The performance on the glass was the best for the Wildcats since its Nov. 18, 2012 matchup against North Florida where they tallied 54 rebounds.
“We have put a lot of time in rebounding since the beginning of the year,” Weber said. “We’ve probably put even more emphasis the last couple weeks since we’ve been a little bullied on the boards. Hopefully it’s paying off a little bit.”
In its first home game after a seventh-place finish in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, momentum was never in question for Kansas State.
After opening on a 12-2 run, the Wildcats never saw their lead fall underneath double digits — and pushed it to as many as 23 points in the first half.