MANHATTAN — Early in the second half Saturday, Kansas State guard Kamau Stokes dribbled the ball across the half-court line in transition with Makol Mawien trailing the play.
Suddenly, Mawien accelerated and caught the eye of Stokes, who delivered a bounce pass that Mawien received just inside the free throw circle. He took two long strides and authoritatively dunked the ball with his left hand.
“We told him he needed a rim-run and he got a rim-run … an unbelievable catch and lefty dunk,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said.
The impressive play by Mawien, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, wasn’t his first sprint of the night. It began with the introduction of the starting lineups prior to the Wildcats’ 89-71 victory over Southeast Missouri State at Bramlage Coliseum.
“Coach (Chester) Frazier told him, ‘The first thing I want you to do is to run out when you are introduced. Show people that you are ready to play,’ “ Weber said. “The players were all laughing and giving him high fives because he ran out real hard, which the other games he’s walked out.
“If you play with heart and play with energy, good things will happen.”
Mawien has shown flashes of his ability since coming to K-State this year from New Mexico Junior College, but the former top-150 recruit and Utah redshirt has battled inconsistency and foul trouble as he adjusts to the Division I level. Saturday’s game was a step forward, as he scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a 3-pointer, with four rebounds and only one foul in 21 minutes.
“I was a little more aggressive today,” said Mawien, who scored three points with one field goal attempt and four fouls in the Wildcats’ previous game, a loss to Tulsa. “I was more focused today because of the loss we had, so I wanted to get more aggressive and focused for this game.
“It was part of the gameplan to work inside … look in and look out and just move the ball and be aggressive.”
Mawien had one of K-State’s seven dunks, most of which came in transition, as the Wildcats scored 44 points in the paint.
“We got a lot of layups, which was positive,” Weber said. “All week we talked about looking downhill. When you watch the (Tulsa) film, the one thing is we didn’t look in the paint. We got hesitant.
“We talked all week about giving it to the big guys. If you want Mak to run and set screens for you, throw it to him once in a while and keep him happy. If he catches it, he’s shooting 70-some percent, so we have to throw it to him a little more.”
It was the first double-figure scoring game for Mawien since getting 12 points in the season-opener against American. He averages 6.3 points and 3.5 rebounds for the Wildcats (9-2), who play Washington State (7-3) on Wednesday in Spokane, Wash.
“It would be nice to be not sporadic and be consistent,” Weber said. “It’s been a little trying for him, trying to get some things done and finishing school, worried about taking care of his family. I just told him you have to come and play and then you can go home and relax a little bit after we get through these next two games and move forward.
“I like how he played. We told him to get some putbacks and he said he was going to get four and he got two offensive rebounds and gets the bonus making that 3 so he was good.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.