MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Curtis Kelly marked his Kansas State debut with 22 points and the Wildcats turned a tight game into a runaway en route to a 92-54 victory over Loyola of Chicago on Friday night.
Kelly, a 6-foot-8 transfer from Connecticut who was considered a top national prospect coming out of high school, dominated the smaller Ramblers. With 10:04 left, he jumped inside for an unopposed dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and gave Kansas State (1-0) a 61-35 lead.Another pair of newcomers provided the play of the night when freshman Nick Russell made a bounce pass on a fast break and 6-9 freshman Wally Judge put in a thunder dunk for a 72-42 lead at the 6:17 mark.Marcus Thomas had 13 for the Ramblers (0-1).Kelly also had seven rebounds and three assists for the Wildcats, who return four starters from a 22-12 team and are hopeful that a blend of veterans and newcomers can propel them into the upper division in the Big 12 Conference.Jacob Pullen had 15 points, four assists and three steals as Kansas State dominated in the opener of coach Frank Martin's third season. Jamar Samuels had 11 points and Denis Clemente 10.After a slow start, the Wildcats pulled away with a 19-3 run to close the half with a 37-18 lead over the Ramblers of the Horizon League. Loyola returns only two starters from last year's 14-18 club.Pullen and Russell hit 3-pointers to help key the run, and Kelly's two free throws made it 28-17. Pullen then added two more from the foul line.After Courtney Stanley's bucket broke the Loyola drought, Kelly ran in for a big dunk on a great feed from Pullen, putting the Wildcats comfortably on top 37-18.Thomas' two consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half sliced the lead to 42-26. But then a foul by the 6-2 senior put Samuels on the line, and he hit both foul shots. Then Kelly scored, and the Wildcats led by 20 and began steadily building their cushion.Terrance Hill had 10 points for Loyola, which outrebounded the Wildcats 51-41 but shot a miserable 24.6 percent while Kansas State shot 50 percent.With a little less than two minutes left, the Wildcats had five freshmen on the floor.