By Arne Green

Salina Journal

MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats needed a cure for their Florida hangover and found it against, of all teams, Florida A&M.

After dropping both of their games last week in the Fort Myers Tip-Off, the Wildcats took out their frustration on FAMU, defanging the winless Rattlers, 76-58, Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

"You needed it. It was a good game to have for our guys because they were sick," K-State coach Bruce Weber said of the lopsided victory, which pushed the Wildcats' record to 5-2 heading into their Big 12/Big East Alliance showdown at 8 p.m. Saturday night in Bramlage against Marquette. "They had their hearts set on going to Florida and trying to win a tournament."

It wasn't a perfect effort — 20 turnovers were a bit alarming — but Weber chose to accentuate the positives. He had plenty to choose from, like a 53.7 shooting percentage, 21 assists on 29 made baskets, and a 35-25 rebounding advantage.

"We've got to be tighter with the basketball. Twenty-one assists, just maybe 10 turnovers, 12 turnovers at the most," he said. "But again I'm just looking for a positive.

"We scored (a season-high) 76 points, 39 (was the) most at half, 50-some percent shooting. We definitely made strides."

Xavier Sneed led the Wildcats with 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting with two 3-pointers, and had three assists. Guard Mike McGuirl busted out with a season-best 16 points, hitting 6 of 8 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and Cartier Diarra scored 11 points plus distributed the ball to the tune of seven assists with five steals.

McGuirl appears to be rounding into form offensively after shooting 50 percent and scoring 16 total points in last week's Fort Myers losses to Pittsburgh and Bradley.

"I felt good," said McGuirl, who had 13 points in the first half, when the Wildcats took control against FAMU. "Just going into the game with a focus on executing, moving the ball and we did that today.

"I was just the recipient of some open shots, so that went well. But overall, we just executed and really played well on offense."

Florida A&M's only lead came on Evins Desir's basket to open the game, and Sneed quickly put K-State in front for good with a 3-pointer. The Wildcats used an eight-point run midway through the half to open a 24-12 lead on Makol Mawien's two free throws with 8:32 left.

A driving layup and 3-pointer by McGuirl gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the period, 35-20, and a Mawien dunk before the buzzer made it 39-25 at the break.

The Wildcats then scored the first nine points of the second half, and Diarra's steal and layup with 16:02 to go capped a 15-2 spurt that pushed it to 54-27. Sneed had six points during that stretch.

"We knew what we had to do with the task at hand. We had to get back on track," Sneed said. "We were locked in at practice when we got back here.

"We just took it as another game. We knew they had players out there, had some good guys, so we just came out with the same mental attitude and we did that."

Florida A&M did make an eight-point run late in the game, trimming the lead to 65-49 on M.J. Randolph's backcourt steal and layup with 5:43 left, but that was as close as the Rattlers would get.

Desir led FAMU (0-6) with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Randolph had 10 points.

"I thought we made some progress," Weber said.