K-State in Paradise Jam, beats Eastern Kentucky
The Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 95-68 on Friday in the opening round of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Xavier Sneed led K-State with 16 points, while Cartier Diarra and Dean Wade each added 14. The Wildcats improved to 3-0. They will next play Penn in the tournament semifinals on Sunday.
Here are some thoughts on the basketball game:
This was K-State’s finest effort of the season
The Wildcats began the season with a pair of lackluster victories over Kennesaw State and Denver that left some wondering if they were worthy of their preseason No. 12 ranking. But there were no negative takeaways from this one.
K-State dominated Eastern Kentucky. So much so, that Wildcats coach Bruce Weber was able to empty his bench near the end of the blowout victory.
It was an ideal start to the tournament.
Weber’s team arrived in the Virgin Islands as the Paradise Jam favorite and played like it on Friday.
The Wildcats led for all but a few early minutes and pulled away in the second half.
“We kind of broke their spirit,” Weber told FloHoops after the game. “We talked about that at the start of the second half.”
Welcome back Cartier Diarra
The sophomore guard was a no-show in K-State’s first two games, scoring a total of four points on 2 of 11 of shooting.
He finally got going against Eastern Kentucky.
Diarra had a nice allaround game that featured 14 points, four assists and three rebounds. He shot the ball well, draining 6 of 11 shots, and made some acrobatic layups. His biggest highlight came on a left-handed layup he made in traffic while falling away from the basket in the second half.
K-State fans saw what Diarra was capable of last season when he briefly took over for an injured Kamau Stokes in the starting lineup. But Diarra has mostly been quiet since.
That changed with an explosive game in the Virgin Islands.
“Cartier Diarra has been a little tentative,” Weber said. “I didn’t start him. Maybe I messed with his mind a little bit. He got going in the second half.”