MANHATTAN, Kan. (UCA) - An abundance of size and strength carried the Kansas State Wildcats to a 87-54 victory over the University of Central Arkansas Bears on Sunday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats, the defending Big 12 champions, used a decided advantge on the boards and 42 points scored in the paint to beat the undersized Bears in the first meeting between the teams. KSU (4-3) outrebounded UCA (2-4) by a 52-22 margin, with 6-foot-8, 250-pound center D.J. Johnson grabbing a game-high 10. He paired with 6-7, 265-pound junior Thomas Gibson (17 points, 6 rebounds) to form an inside duo the Bears could not match.
"We knew they had size coming in and we would have trouble matching up with them,' said UCA head coach Clarence Finley. "And we left a 6-8 player (senior Terry Tidwell) at home because of study hall issues, and we need all the help we can get inside.
"We got a couple of stops here and there but they just had too much height and too much size inside. I knew it was going to be something similar to that, even though we worked all week on blocking out. With 23 offensive rebounds, that's a lot of putbacks and second-chance points.
"The big kid (Gibson) was just too much for us. He was a load inside, just a nightmare for us.'
The Wildcats, who had five players with at least six rebounds, jumped out early on the Bears, taking a 18-6 lead after eight minutes of action. UCA, which shot just 33.3 percent in the first half and had 13 turnovers, connected three times from three-point range to stay within striking distance.
UCA senior Ryan Williams made consecutive threes and freshman Jalen Jackson added another, but the Wildcats dominated inside, outrebounding the Bears 25-15 in the first half.
DeShone McClure opened the second half with a three-pointer for the Bears but UCA never got closer than 21 points the rest of the way. KState shot 54.8 percent from the field in the second half and also made 12 of 15 (80 percent) from the free-throw line. For the game, the Wildcats were 19 of 28 from the line while the Bears were 9 of 19 (47.4 percent).
McClure and Jackson scored 12 points each for UCA, while junior center Jeff Drew battled inside with 7 points and 3 rebounds before fouling out. Williams added 10 points for the Bears, who shot 39.6 percent for the game. After giving up 13 turnovers in the first half, UCA had just three after halftime.
"We slowed it down a little bit and didn't rush our offense as much in the second half,' said Finley, "But the thing that killed us was their putbacks, the second and third shots. They have 19 second-chance points and could have had a lot more with 23 offensive rebounds.'
The Bears return home to face Nebraska-Omaha at noon on Saturday at the Farris Center.