MANHATTAN — At least the Kansas State Wildcats showed they know how to grind.
On a night when points were hard to come by, the No. 12-ranked Wildcats simply turned to their defense, limiting Kennesaw State to 14 second-half points and pulling away late for a season-opening 56-41 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.
"We were really good," K-State coach Bruce Weber said of the defensive effort. "It's got to be our constant.
"Obviously you'd like to be sharper and more crisp offensively."
Barry Brown and Dean Wade led K-State with 15 points each and Makol Mawien had 13. Austin Trice came off the bench and led the Wildcats to a 42-29 rebounding advantage with 12, while Wade had eight, Mawien seven and Brown six.
The Wildcats finally wore Kennesaw State down with a 15-2 spurt late in the game, led by three Wade baskets. Kennesaw State (1-1) missed 14 of 15 shots during the decisive run.
"We knew we needed to pick it up at halftime," Brown said. "I feel like we came out and they kind of ran their stuff and got some easy baskets.
"The second half, we talked it over at halftime in the locker room and just made some small adjustments that we needed to make, grabbed some rebounds. For the most part we boxed out, got some rebounds and made some shots."
The Wildcats led 41-37 at halftime after a Mike McGuirl 3-pointer, their only one on 13 attempts in the game, and used an 8-1 spurt early in the second period to go up 39-31 on Wade's fast-break layup with 14:54 left. There were six lead changes and six ties in in the first half.
"It starts with defense," Wade said. "You get a couple of stops, runouts and easy layups.
"It spreads the defense, gets you easy baskets and everyone's confidence up."
K-State shot just 41.7 percent from the field for the game, but held Kennesaw State to 32.7 percent — 21.4 in the second half.
"I thought the first half, the guys did a decent job," Kennesaw State coach Al Skinner said. "I expected us to do a better job in the second half.
"We can't turn the ball over like we did and expect to be successful. Give credit to K-State, they stayed aggressive (and) they established what they needed to do."
For Kennesaw State, forward Kosta Jankovic led the way with 10 points, but had just one in the second half. Kyle Clarke added eight points and Isaac Mbuyamba six rebounds.
The Owls turned the ball over 21 times to 16 for K-State.
"It wasn't pretty but we got a win," Weber said. "We'll learn from it and now we've got to get better.
"I hope (the players) left with a sour taste in their mouths and come back and practice better tomorrow."
The Wildcats play at home again at 8 p.m. Monday against Denver before heading to the U.S. Virgin Islands next weekend for the Paradise Jam.