Kansas State got their signature win, broke a winless streak against ranked opponents, and kept their slim NCAA tournament hopes alive by knocking off Oklahoma 80-69. Tonight's game showed a tenacity and fight that the Wildcats missed all last season, and the ability to close the game strongly. It is hard to overstate how big a victory this game was for the Wildcats.
The 'Cats started with a different starting line up for only the third time this season, as Bruce Weber sent a message to both Justin Edwards and Dean Wade by leaving them on the bench. Although K-State got off to an incredibly slow start by allowing Oklahoma to run out to a 9-0 lead, the move appears to have worked as Wade came in and grabbed a rebound, dished an assist, and then hit a three. The three ball was the story of the night for Wade as he made three of six finishing with 17 points, 7 boards, and 3 assists. Even with Wade stepping up, the Wildcats wouldn't take their first lead until the under-8 minute time out when Stephen Hurt made two free throws to put K-State up 25-24.
The teams would then play see-saw for the next 5 minutes before free throws by Barry Brown and a lay-up by Wesley Iwundu put the 'Cats up 33-30 at the 2:08 mark. From there Kansas State controlled the final 2 minutes going on a 5-2 run capped by a beautiful Dean Wade to Wesley Iwundu alley-oop.
Wesley Iwundu with authority! https://t.co/DeU0QrGtan— K-State Athletics (@kstatesports) February 6, 2016
The energy from the end of the first half failed to carry over to the second as Oklahoma quickly went on an 11-3 to take a 45-41 lead to the under-16 timeout. Whatever Bruce Weber said during that timeout stuck; Dean Wade hit his third three off an Iwundu assist, and on the next offensive possession Barry Brown hit a layup to give K-State a 46-45 lead. A fast break dunk by Dante Burton gave Oklahoma their final lead of the game at 47-45. K-State then went on a 12-3 run before a free throw contest broke out over the final eight minutes, with the Wildcats converting 9 of their final 13 free throw attempts to close the game strong and close out their best win of the year.
Those are the respective 3 point field goal percentages for both Oklahoma and K-State. Oklahoma came into tonight's game as the number one three point shooting team in the nation, and while they attempted 24 they only made 6. On the flip side, Kansas State is one of the worst three point shooting teams in the Big 12, but tonight they were locked in from deep hitting 6 of 13. Maybe the biggest takeaways from this stat was K-State's ability to guard the three point line, and to pick their spots on offense to take the three.
Player Of The Game: Wesley Iwundu
Iwundu played his butt off tonight. He finished with a team high 22 points, 7 assists and only 1 turnover as the Wildcat's de facto point guard. He also put in yeoman-like effort on defense matching up all night against player of the year front runner Buddy Hield. Hield's game high 23 points may mask that fact, but Iwundu was all over him most of night, forcing bad passes, disrupting passing lanes, and causing Hield to lead the Sooners in turnovers.
Tigger Of The Game: Dean Wade
Note: Since HC Bruce Weber noted there are "a lot of Tiggers on this team," we're going to find that player that had an high-flying offensive play, stonewall defensive play, or a notable performance, and call them out here.
Dean Wade took his absence from the starting line up personally, and played his most aggressive and dominating game of the Big 12 campaign. All season there have been questions about Wade and his ability to maximize his talent. Tonight showed how effective a player he can be, as he hit the glass hard and finished strong down low but flashed his stretch five ability as well. Hopefully this is a turning point for Dean Wade, and he can continue this level of play throughout the remainder of the Big 12 schedule.
Other Notable Performances
This was the polar opposite of last years Wildcat team. Everyone played hard, dove for loose balls, played the passing lanes, and gave a crap about their teammates. It was the type of game everyone wanted from the Wildcats last year and never got. Well it's here now, and when K-State plays like they did tonight, with everyone giving it everything they've got, they can compete with any NCAA tournament team.
One Big Thought:
Upset City: Manhattan, KS
Oklahoma hadn't beaten Kansas State in three years at Bramlage and they couldn't do it tonight. Now it's time to head down to Aggieville and celebrate this victory in style. Go State!
#EMAW welcomes Baylor to the unfriendly confines of #Doom, on Wednesday February 10th at 7:15 pm.