ROME, Italy (K-State Sports) – The Kansas State men’s basketball team dropped the first game of its exhibition tour of Italy and Switzerland on Wednesday night, as the Wildcats could not finish off its double-digit comeback in an 82-75 loss to LCC International University at the Stella Azzurra Sports Complex.
Down by as many 18 points in the fourth quarter, K-State closed to within 79-73 with 1:09 to play after five straight free throws from freshman Xavier Sneed, who was one of two Wildcats to notch double figures with 11 points. The score crept even closer after a steal and lay-up by senior Carlbe Ervin II cut the deficit to 79-75 with 25.2 seconds remaining. However, LCC International was able to close the game out from the free throw line.
Senior D.J. Johnson led the way with team-highs in both points (15) and rebounds (10) on 6-of-8 shooting, while Sneed added 4 rebounds and 2 steals to his 11 points off the bench. Ervin notched an impressive all-around game in gaining the start at the point with 8 points, 9 rebounds, a team-high 5 assists and a pair of steals. Ervin and Johnson were joined in the starting lineup by senior Wesley Iwundu and sophomores Barry Brown and Dean Wade.
K-State connected on 37.2 percent (29-of-78) from the field, including just 24.2 percent (4-of-24) from 3-point range, to go with 56 rebounds, 10 steals, 9 assists and 2 blocks. Brown and Wade, along with sophomore Kamau Stokes, felt the effects of a long nine-hour flight from Atlanta, as the trio combined for 23 points on just 27.3 percent shooting (9-of-33), including 25 percent (3-of-12) from long range.
The contest was the Wildcats’ first of five scheduled exhibitions on its 10-day tour of Italy and Switzerland, which was delayed by more than a day after flight complications. The travel party did not arrive in Rome until 10:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday with many not sleeping much on the nine-hour flight from Atlanta. The team was able to enjoy a short tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum before leaving for the game.
K-State returns to action on Thursday evening, as the Wildcats play BC Silute at 6:30 p.m. local time/11:30 a.m. CT at the Stellar Azzurra Sport Complex.