MANHATTAN — Curtis Kelly turned to the student section, spread his arms wide and smiled.
The Kansas State junior center had just slammed one of his three dunks and was playing to the crowd on his way back up the court.
He later said he overstepped his boundaries by acting so joyfully, but it was a special moment for him nonetheless.
Since transferring from Connecticut after the 2007-08 season, he hasn't had many chances to publicly celebrate like that. During a 92-54 rout of Loyola-Chicago in the season opener for both teams Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum, he led all scorers with 22 points.
"It was cool," Kelly said. "... It was fun. Of course it was. The first game back was going to be fun."
Jacob Pullen, who scored 15 points, said Kelly looked like a solid big man.
"He played well," Pullen said. "He scored the ball well in the post, which we definitely need. We need somebody that we can get the ball to in the post and not really worry about doing anything but scoring the ball."
Good thing they enjoyed the moment, because there was no room for smiles in his first postgame experience back.
Kelly, along with teammates, was greeted by a livid Frank Martin in the locker room.
The Wildcats' coach said his team sleep-walked through the worst practice he's "ever been associated with" on Thursday and K-State's 38-point win on Friday was no better.
"We were the worst team in the country in practice yesterday," he said. "We deserved to come out here and play as bad as we did. I hope we're embarrassed."
What had Martin most heated was K-State's rebounding. Despite a distinct size advantage, the Wildcats were outrebounded 51-41.
Kelly had one defensive rebound. For that reason, he didn't object to Martin describing his game as "not a very good performance."
"That is something that is really bothering me right now," Kelly said. "I think that I have really got to focus and improve on rebounding better."
The Wildcats were jittery early and that led to a 13-13 tie midway through the first half. K-State's 24-5 run led to a big halftime lead.
Jamar Samuels, Rodney McGruder and Denis Clemente each scored in double figures, and on defense the Wildcats allowed the Ramblers to make 24.6 of their shots.
Did Martin consider that a positive? Not even close.
Aside from the play of Victor Ojeleye and Chris Merriewether, who combined to score three points but have shown consistent efforts throughout preseason practice, he said he didn't like anything that happened in the opener.
"We better be better tomorrow in practice," Martin said. "Because if not, it will be a long Saturday."
Pullen, who took responsibility for Thursday's forgettable practice, said the Wildcats would be ready for Sunday's game against Western Illinois.
"We just need to try and leave everything on the floor so that we can focus on the next game," he said.
And more importantly, the next practice.