Johnson scores 19 in K-State’s win over Colorado St.
DENVER — Kansas State found strength in numbers.
D.J. Johnson had 19 points to lead six Wildcats scoring in double figures, and Kansas State pulled away in the second half to beat Colorado State 89-70 Saturday.
Barry Brown had 14 points and Xavier Sneed added 12 for Kansas State (10-1), which won its fifth in a row since its loss to Maryland on Nov. 26.
Johnson, who fouled out with just under two minutes remaining, also had 10 rebounds for his third career double-double.
“You get six guys in double figures, assists to turnovers of 17 to 9, and our rebounding was a huge thing,” said Kansas State coach Bruce Weber. “We got some timely offensive rebounds and a great start to the second half that broke their spirits.”
Prentiss Nixon had 30 points to lead Colorado State (8-3).
Up by seven at the break, Kansas State stretched its lead 58-41 with a 14-4 run to open the second half. The surge featured two 3-pointers by Kamau Stokes and Johnson’ rim-rattling, one-handed dunk off an offensive rebound.
By the time Johnson converted a 3-point play with 9:33 left, the Wildcats were up by 20 points, and the Rams could make little headway the rest of the way.
“I feel we have not peaked, but I feel we are in a good place,” Brown said. “We got a lot of guys involved. A lot of guys in double figures. The bench really picked us up and gave us a lot of energy in the first half and we carried it over to the second half.”
Nixon said a lackluster defensive effort was at the center of the Rams’ double-digit loss.
“We weren’t guarding anybody,” Nixon said. “They were getting open looks. We played terribly.”
Kansas State led 44-37 at halftime, using a 9-0 run to surge in front after Nixon’s 3-pointer had pulled the Rams to within a point.
Brown capped the burst by converting a 3-point play.
Kansas State: A Wildcats’ strength this season has been their balanced scoring and it was once again on display in their latest victory. The game marked the eighth time this season that at least four Wildcats had scored in double figures.
Colorado State: Nixon led all scorers with his 30-point game but it wasn’t enough to keep up against the diversified offensive display by the Wildcats. The Rams were hurt by turnovers (14) and defensive breakdowns that saw Colorado State allow a season high in points.
Their strong start notwithstanding, Johnson said he continues to see an upside for the Wildcats. “I think we played well as we have,” he said. “I thought our defense lagged a little bit in the first half. There is always room for improvement.”
Kansas State: Rounds out its non-conference schedule by hosting Gardner-Webb on Wednesday night.
Colorado State: Finishes a five-game home stand by returning to Moby Arena on the Fort Collins campus and hosting Loyola Marymount.