MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Bruce Weber and Justin Edwards stood some 30 feet apart, one calling out a defensive play and the other waiting to attempt a free throw, but replayed the same scenario over and over again in their own heads.
Last season, Kansas State played an emotional game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, before returning home and being embarrassed by Texas Southern 58-56.
Coming off a close loss to No. 9 North Carolina in Kansas City, both Weber and Edwards feared their young team would meet the same fate against South Carolina State.
The latter was determined to make sure that wouldn't happen.
Edwards scored 18 points, including four key free throws in the final 17 seconds, and Kansas State avoided an upset bid by South Carolina State, 68-66, on Sunday.
''We didn't bounce back the way we wanted to,'' Edwards said. ''Obviously we wanted to come out and punish this team, but it shows we have some character because we toughed it out.''
The Bulldogs pulled within 64-61 with 21 seconds remaining on an Ed Stephens 3-pointer - one of five for him on the day - but Edwards sealed the game at the line on two separate occasions. The senior guard also pulled down 7 rebounds and had 6 assists.
Dean Wade finished with 12 points and Wesley Iwundu 11. Stephen Hurt tallied 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with 2 assists for Kansas State (5-1).
Stephens scored 24 points and Eric Eaves 21 for South Carolina State (3-4). Together, they accounted for 68 percent of the Bulldogs' scoring on 15 of 28 shooting, including 7 of 13 from beyond the arc.
''Those two guys can really score the basketball,'' Bulldogs coach Murray Garvin said. ''I tell them every day that is not our challenge. They can put the ball in the hole. They've been scoring, and they were high school teammates so they know how to play with each other.''
Kansas State trailed 21-16 with 8:20 left in the opening half when it sparked a 20-9 run to close out the first period to take a 36-30 halftime lead. Iwundu threw down a highlight reel drunk on an alley-oop from Kamau Stokes early in the run, and later split the defense on a one-handed pass to Edwards to cap off the rally and give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the first half.
The Bulldogs kept it close for most of the second half after Iwundu rattled off three-straight buckets and dished out an assist to Stokes for a 3-pointer to extend Kansas State's halftime lead to 50-39 with 15:07 left.
Both teams struggled shooting the ball for much of the final period, shooting a combined 3 of 18 during one stretch. The 3-point ball kept South Carolina State in the game, as the Bulldogs shot 38 percent from deep.
Kansas State overcame 17 turnovers and poor rebounding late.
''We weren't ready to play, but we won so we have to move forward,'' Weber said. ''We lost to North Carolina - we felt like we competed - but you have to move forward. We had some guys with a little bit of a hangover after that.''
South Carolina State: The Bulldogs return four starters from a team that finished 11-22 a season ago. . South Carolina State has an enrollment of 2,750.
Kansas State: South Carolina State is the second team from the MEAC that Kansas State has beat this season. The Wildcats are 28-0 against the conference all-time. . Kansas State is 5-1 for the first time since 2012-13.
South Carolina State: At Florida A&M on Saturday
Kansas State: At Georgia on Friday