For the better part of 27 minutes of game time Wednesday, Florida A&M outplayed Kansas State. Every time the Wildcats scored, the Rattlers, the pride of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, had a response. But as the clock ticked under 13 minutes to play, K-State finally asserted itself.

Or more specifically, Selton Miguel asserted himself.

The sophomore guard from Angola, scoreless in the first half, poured in all 10 of his points on the night in a three-and-a-half-minute span.

When he started his scoring barrage, K-State trailed 43-42. When he finished, the Wildcats led 54-45.

Playing with some breathing room at last, K-State pulled away for a 67-57 season-opening victory at Bramlage Coliseum.

“It was a tough, hard-fought game, and we as coaches expected it,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “I’m not sure the guys did. This is the same (Florida A&M) group, most of them played against us three years ago. They’ve been through the wars.”

Miguel was one of three Wildcats (1-0) to finish in double-figures in the scoring department. He was one point behind Mark Smith, who had 11 points. Sophomore guard Nijel Pack had a team-best 18 points.

“I’m just trying to adjust,” said Miguel, who came off the bench Wednesday after starting 22 of the team’s 29 games last season. “I will do whatever Coach Weber needs me to do and just stay focused.”

Miguel’s torrid second-half stretch came after a forgettable first half in which he went 0-for-2 from the field.

“There’s no doubt he gave us a great boost,” Weber said. “We’re struggling; he steps up, makes some big plays.”

Yet while the points garner the lion’s share of the attention, there was another part of Miguel’s stat line that excited Weber.

“For him to get seven rebounds is really, really impressive,” Weber said of Miguel’s rebound total, which marked a team high Wednesday. “Ten (points) and seven (rebounds). Again, just finish the game. ... Credit to him, because in the first half, I would say he struggled. To come back shows a lot about him and his character and his development as a player.”

After a freshman campaign in which he routinely showcased his ability to catch fire quickly and scorch the nets beyond the 3-point line, Pack said he couldn’t be happier to see Miguel do the same.

“It was amazing,” Pack said. “Being on the bench taking a break thinking, ‘Man, how are we going to get this run going? How are we going to get some separation from them?’ Selton came in and made some huge baskets, got some huge stops. You could see the energy on the bench. We were all into it. The coaches were into it. Even the fans were into it. It was just a great feeling to be able to find that spark that we needed to get that run going, and then we never looked back.”

Pack ceded the stage offensively in the second half, as he scored just five points on four shot attempts. Still, he was pleased with his season debut.

“It was a great feeling, really. All that time I spent going through some stuff,” said Pack, alluding to a nagging hip injury that has limited his practice reps during the preseason, “it just felt good to get out there with my teammates and have a good game today.”

The Wildcats’ trio of Miguel, Smith and Pack offset Rattler guard M.J. Randolph, who exploded for 27 points to lead all scorers.

Though points came at a premium during certain stretches of Wednesday’s contest, K-State hit its first two shots — and three of its first six. But it was a struggle for the remainder of the half. The Wildcats missed 20 more shots (29) than they made (nine) in the opening 20 minutes, leaving their field goal percentage at 31 on the dot.

Their saving grace, as was so often the case last season, was Pack. He accounted for 13 points to give K-State a 33-30 lead at the break. Those 13 points offset Randolph, who finished with the same first-half total. Both went 4-for-7 from the field, but Pack did most of his damage behind the 3-point arc (3 of 3) while Randolph was perfect (4 of 4) from the free throw line.

Randolph helped power a Rattler (0-1) offense that connected on nearly half its shot attempts (11-for-24) in the first 20 minutes.

He went 6-for-10 in the second half for another 14 points.

“We made some mistakes on the defensive end that allowed him to get a few of those,” Weber said, “but he earned a bunch of them.”

Despite Randolph’s final numbers, Weber said he believed the Wildcats didn’t play badly defensively.

“I hope we wore him down, and one of the things we did was put Selton on him,” Weber said. “Selton’s a pretty good defender, and Selton’s got that big body. ... I thought just from Mark to Selton to Mike (McGuirl), you’ve got a lot of bodies that keep coming at (Randolph), and you hope you wore him down as the game moved on.”

Though K-State had a bout with adversity and made its share of mistakes in Game 1, Weber won’t apologize for walking away with a win.

“If we get everyone clicking and playing well at the same time — I thought in the first half and even in the second half a couple times, they (needed to) make the right pass to somebody open,” Weber said. “You might have a good shot, but that guy’s got a better shot, and that’s why I think we’ve got to take a step forward if we’re gonna really make some progress.”

Recommended for you