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MANHATTAN, Kansas (AP) — Kansas State point guard Kamau Stokes limped off the floor early in the first half with an injury to the same knee he had hurt a year ago. Coach Bruce Weber had worried that he might've had another serious injury for the second-straight season.
This time though, Stokes returned to the game and helped spark the Wildcats to victory.
Stokes scored a season-high 18 points and Kansas State used a 19-1 run late in the first-half to defeat Gardner-Webb 67-54 on Wednesday night.
"We just had to pick up our defense," Stokes said. "Coach got on us about that. We were playing lazy. Teams do that sometimes and we've got to stop that whenever it happens."
While Kansas State (11-1) was 5 of 7 from the field during that late first-half stretch, Gardner-Webb (7-6) struggled from the field as they missed all 11 shot attempts in the final 7:02 of the first half.
Stokes and DJ Johnson were the only Wildcats to score in double figures on the night. Johnson scored 16 points and was a perfect 8 for 8 from the field in the victory.
This was the final game for the Wildcats before they venture into Big 12 conference play.
"I feel like we are prepared," Stokes said. We are ready to go into conference play. We missed out on a lot of close games that we should've pulled out."
Gardner-Webb scored the first eight points of the second half but once again struggled as they shot 10 for 25 from the field.
Jamaal Robateau scored 17 points and Tyrell Nelson 14 to lead the Runnin' Bulldogs.
Gardner-Webb: The loss by Gardner-Webb breaks the Runnin' Bulldogs two game winning streak and brings their record to 4-2 in the month of December.
Kansas State: Kansas State wraps up their non-conference slate with a 7-0 record at home.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: Kansas State's DJ Johnson was the first Wildcat to be a perfect 8-8 from the field since Luis Colon shot 9 for 9 in a 2009 game against Southern Mississippi.
HE SAID IT: DJ Johnson on Kamau Stokes:
"This is my buddy. He passes me the ball and I screen for him. I make sure he does not get his head knocked off on screens. We are best friends on the court. He's going to help us in conference play. We were missing a true point for last year. Carlbe (Ervin) stepped up, but he did not play that position in practice. We have a true point guard going into conference play."
Gardner-Webb: The Runnin' Bulldogs next game is their conference opener as they host High Point on December 29.
Kansas State: Kansas State will host Texas in the first game of Big 12 Conference play on December 30.
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