NASHVILLE (AP) - Kansas State isn’t known for its foul shooting, but it was hard to tell Sunday.
The Wildcats shot 91.7 percent from the free throw line to pass their first road test of the season with an 84-79 win at Vanderbilt.
Their 22-of-24 performance was the third-best in school history for a minimum of 20 attempts.
“Ironically, we haven’t shot very well at home – free throws,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “When we were in Vegas we shot the ball very well from the free throw line, but those are all big plays down the stretch.”
The Wildcats (7-1) entered the game with a 70.5 percent mark at the foul line, including a combined 23 of 27 (85.2 percent) at the neutral site Las Vegas Invitational.
Xavier Sneed, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, scored a career-high 21 points by hitting 8 of 11 from the floor and all four foul shots.
“I’ve told people he might be one of the most improved players not only in our league, but the country,” Weber said. “He’s an elite-level athlete. He’s has a lot of emotion, sometimes too much.”
K-State’s Kamau Stokes added 20 points and Barry Brown had 18.
“Any road win will mean a lot later on this season,” Stokes said. “(Xavier) is playing with a lot of confidence on both ends of the floor. I feel like he needs to continue that for us to be good.”
Vanderbilt (3-5) rallied from a 16-point deficit to tie the score with 3:33 remaining on Matthew Fisher-Davis’ 3-pointer, but was outscored 13-8 the rest of the way.
“First 15 minutes, they pretty much had their way with us and in the last 25 minutes we played at a much higher level,” Commodores coach Bryce Drew said. “We gave ourselves a great opportunity to win this game down the stretch.”
Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson added to his Southeastern Conference lead with his fifth double-double by scoring 22 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Freshman Saben Lee added 19 points, including 12 at the free-throw line, and Joe Toye scored 11.
K-State freshman Levi Stockard entered the game with a 33 percent showing at the foul line, but he hit 5 of 6 against Vanderbilt. He hit two free throws with 24 seconds left after the Commodores narrowed the gap to one.
“It’s tough, especially when guys who aren’t shooting well on the season go and knock them down,” Roberson said. “But, I mean, that’s part of the game. We’ve still got to find ways to win.”
Roberson is a 91 percent foul shooter this season, but he missed two crucial free throws that could have tied the score at 73 with 2:55 left.
Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance fouled out after being hit with a double technical foul with 7:38 left. He exited with nine points after erupting for a career-high 27 in Tuesday’s 74-62 win over Radford.
After trailing by as many as 16 in the first half, Vanderbilt made a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 58-57 on LaChance’s 3-pointer with 9:15 remaining in the game.
K-State, whose only loss was a 92-90 setback to 20th-ranked Arizona State on Thanksgiving night, shot 62 percent in the first half to seize a 43-30 lead.
Vanderbilt started cold, missing 14 of its first 21 shots from the field.
Kansas State: The Wildcats got their first signature win over a team that made it to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores made an impressive rally in the second half, but couldn’t get important foul shots to fall during the final two minutes.
Vanderbilt held a moment of silence before the game to honor former Commodore star Perry Wallace, who died Friday. Wallace, 69, became the first black varsity basketball player in the SEC 50 years ago.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wallace family,” Drew said. “You definitely feel the impact that he made, not only at Vanderbilt but across the country and we’re definitely going to miss him and hopefully our program can represent him in a good way moving forward.”
Vanderbilt’s second-half comeback was impressive, considering LaChance and 6-10 Djery Baptiste both fouled out. “We have a deep team,” Drew said. “We feel like a lot of guys can go out there and help our team win and if they’re given the opportunity they take advantage of it. Obviously, we missed the guys that fouled out.” Vanderbilt has lost four of its last five games.
Weber saw a lot of positives in the Wildcats’ seventh win of the season. “You shoot 58 percent (from the field) on the road, only seven turnovers, a lot of good decisions,” Weber said. “Xavier has a career high, Kam 20 (points) and even better: six assists, no turnovers. We usually get more out of Dean Wade (six points, seven rebounds), but they doubled him a little bit, kept him off guard. I thought we were close to breaking their spirit, but offensive rebounding killed us.” Vanderbilt dominated the offensive boards 16-5.
Kanas State hosts South Carolina Upstate (3-7) on Tuesday. USC Upstate has lost three straight by double-digit margins.
Vanderbilt hosts Middle Tennessee (5-1) on Wednesday. MTSU’s Nick King posted career highs in points (32) and rebounds (11) in Saturday’s 81-76 win at Florida Gulf Coast.