Driscoll’s biggest concern came to fruition as Kansas State dominated North Florida 100-76 behind Jamar Samuels’ season-high 26 points and Wally Judge’s career-high 22.
“I told our guys in shootaround that any shot is a play for K-State,” Driscoll said. “The play is, if the shot is missed, go get it.”
Kansas State (11-3) did exactly that, outrebounding the Ospreys (4-9) by a 42-15 margin, including 18 offensive rebounds. That helped Samuels and Judge go a combined 17 of 24 from the field.
Parker Smith scored 25 points, including seven 3-pointers, for North Florida but it could not overcome K-State’s strength inside.
Samuels and Judge each made a shot while being fouled in the game’s first 20 seconds, setting the tone.
“We have shooters, but anytime we score inside, it’s a plus,” Samuels said.
Kansas State was playing its third straight game without its two leading scorers—preseason All-America Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly. Both were suspended by the Kansas State athletic department for violating NCAA rules by receiving impermissible benefits in the form of clothing at a local department store.
Pullen has now completed his three-game suspension, while Kelly will serve three more games.
On top of that, starting center Freddy Asprilla missed Friday’s game due to illness.
The absences certainly did not hurt Kansas State’s offense early. The Wildcats pounded the ball inside and took a 16-4 lead in the first 3:35, a span that included two 3-pointers and two three-point plays.
The Wildcats built a 24-10 lead in less than 5 minutes, making nine of their first 10 shots. Samuels and Judge looked unstoppable.
“Wally is starting to play with confidence, and that carries over,” Kansas State coach Frank Martin said. “And I’m happy for Jamar because he’s played well the last couple games but the ball didn’t go in the basket. Today, it did.”
But North Florida, playing its sixth opponent from one of the six power conferences, climbed back in the game behind Smith. The sophomore reserve guard scored 13 points—nine on 3-pointers—in a span of less than 8 minutes midway through the half.
Smith’s consecutive 3-pointers cut the Wildcats’ lead to 39-32 with 7 minutes remaining before halftime.
But K-State went back inside, where it was having success. Making his first start this season, Samuels had 17 points—already a season high—in the first half, almost all of them in the paint.
Judge had 12 first-half points around the rim or on free throws, and he had three points in a 12-4 run to end the half. Jordan Henriquez-Roberts’ tip-in at the buzzer gave the Wildcats a 57-41 lead.
That left Driscoll exasperated. His team had only 11 turnovers and shot 49 percent for the game, so he could not be overly upset with his players. Jimmy Williams had 15 points for the Ospreys and Jerron Granberry added 12.
“It was just one of those days you have to give K-State and their players a lot of credit,” he said.
That includes Judge, who was 4 of 20 from the free throw line coming into the game. On Friday, he was 10 of 13.
“I think all the practices and extra time with no classes has helped,” he said.
Despite Smith hitting four 3-pointers in the second half, the Ospreys never cut into the halftime deficit. In a three-day span, Smith scored a combined 46 points in games at Maryland and K-State.
The large margin allowed the Wildcats to spread out the minutes. Former walk-on Victor Ojeleye had a career-high 12 points. Sophomore guard Juevol Myles had 12 points—more than he had scored the rest of the season combined.