MANHATTAN — At this point, the Kansas State Wildcats weren't looking for style points.
Escaping Bramlage Coliseum with their first victory was good enough.
After scoring the game's first 17 points, the Wildcats were just good enough — or not quite bad enough — to hang on Monday night for a 62-58 victory over Missouri-Kansas City.
"We had lost the last two games, so it was the biggest thing for us," K-State sophomore guard DaJuan Gordon said. "All we wanted to do was win. Now we just want to continue the streak."
The Wildcats, 1-2, have five days to get ready for a visit from UNLV at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Despite faltering after jumping out to the 17-0 advantage, the Wildcats led 33-23 at halftime and kept it hovering near the 10-point mark most of the second period. UMKC (2-2) trimmed it to six points with six seconds left, and after Nijel Pack made the second of two free throws, got a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"We were happy we won the game," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "I really challenged them.
"All we've talked about is improving and giving ourselves a chance to win. Again, great energy, effort (and) great defense to start the game."
It was the second straight game that the Wildcats built double-digit first-half leads. They were up 13 against Colorado last Friday before stumbling to a 76-58 loss.
"We led double digits against Colorado, double digits today, but we don't continue that," Weber said. "And I hope it comes through experience, I hope it comes through execution.
"That's probably our next step, is executing and being a little more perfect. But we kept telling them in the scout, 'They're not going to quit.' And those dudes — (Brandon) McKissic, big-time game — played their butts off, battled us, held us, everything."
McKissic had 24 points to lead all scorers, while Franck Kamgain added 11 for UMKC. But K-State got 14 points each from Gordon and Pack, with big man Kaosi Ezeagu contributing 11.
Gordon's 14 points were just one off his career high, and he did record a career best with nine rebounds. K-State outrebounded the Kangaroos, 31-21.
Ezeagu was 2 of 3 from the field, and more importantly hit 7 of 9 free throws. The Wildcats outscored UMKC 20-5 from the foul line.
K-State shot just 35.3% from the field in the second half after connecting at a 57% clip in the first.
K-State stretched its halftime lead to 46-31 with 12 minutes left on a Davion Bradford free throw following a Gordon layup off a feed from Montavious Murphy. But UMKC answered with a seven-point run to again whittle it to single digits, 46-38, on a 3-pointer and dunk from Hidde Roessink and a McKissic inside basket.
The Roos never got it to a one-possession game.
K-State opened the game on fire, scoring the first 17 points while shutting Kansas City out for the first 8 minutes, 10 seconds.
But the Kangaroos, after missing their first seven shots, were 10 of 16 the rest of the half. Marvin Nesbitt broke the drought with a 3-pointer at the 11:50 mark and Brandon McKissic drained another as Kansas City began chipping away at the Wildcat lead.
K-State built the 17-point lead by hitting 5 of 7 shots from the field, including all three 3-pointers and four free throws. The Wildcats finished the half at 57.1 percent from the floor, outrebounded UMKC 14-9 and forced nine turnovers.
Gordon led K-State in the half with 10 points and five rebounds. Montavious Murphy added six points off the bench, with freshmen Pack and Selton Miguel each contributing five points.
Most important, the Wildcats walked away winners for the first time.
"It means everything," Pack said. "It gets our confidence boosted. The coaches talked about going on a winning streak, and this is the first of that winning streak.
"We want to keep that going and keep that winning mentality going into Saturday's game."