Apparently, these guys want to keep playing.
In a must-win game for post-season hopes, the Kansas State Wildcats came out strong to ensure another game in Kansas City and a possible post-season berth in the NIT in possibly Travis Ford's final game as the head coach at Oklahoma State.
The Wildcats came out firing, and after a quick back-and-forth to start the game, the Cats took control and never looked back. For a team that has been offensively challenged (pun intended) all Big 12 season, these Cats were fired up and put away 40 points in the first half. Two Wildcats, Dean Wade and Wesley Iwundu, scored in double figure in the first half, and the Wildcats as a whole shot just a touch over 48% from the field for the half and 44% (including Wade going 2-2) from the 3pt line. In the other half-court, the Cats league-leading defense held OSU to just 33% and 12.5% from the field and behind the arc, respectively, though some of that has to be attributed to some head-scratching offense and shot selection from the Pokes.
The Pokes actually won the second half. But the Cats were able to maintain enough of a cushion for the final margin. The Cowboys improved their scoring enough that they managed 46% and 35% for the game (field and 3pt). The Cats actaully scored at an even higher clip in the second half, upping their percentage from 48% to 50% from the field, but the first-half FT shooting of 90% fell all the way to 60% after an abysmal second-half at the charity stripe.
At the end of the night, the Cats did just enough to finish out the victory and advance to tomorrow to face the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks. A win over KU would put the Cats in the Big 12 semi-finals for the first time since 2013. A loss tomorrow would send the Cats home to Manhattan waiting for an invite to the NIT. Of course, maybe these guys can pull off a Holy Cross...
Dean Wade had a career-high 20 points including....
Dean Wade was a perfect 3-3 from behind the 3pt line, and 6-9 from the field. This is the guy we last saw play at Georgia but has been largely missing ever since.
The Cats had a solid edge in rebounding including a 12-8 edge on the offensive glass.
The Wildcats shot an astonishing 50% from the field for the game while allowing Oklahoma State to shoot 46% for the game.
Player Of The Game: Dean Wade
The freshman from St. John, KS had the biggest game of his young career when it mattered most. While we already covered his scoring (Dean was ON FIRE), he also snagged six rebounds on the game to lead his team to victory and another game.
Tigger Of The Game: Justin Edwards
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.
This may be the quietest Tigger all season. Justin had a monster game while being shadowed by the star freshman. Justin merely scored 17 points, going 6-11 from the field and 4-4 from the FT line, and snagged nine rebounds and dished four assists.
Other Notable Performances
Wesley Iwundu only added three points in the second half to push his total to 13 for the game, but dished four assists to only one turnover on the game and added three steals.
D.J. Johnson fought foul trouble for the game (and eventually fouled out) but managed to notch nine points, grabbed four rebounds, and marked the only blocked shot for the Wildcats.
Stephen Hurt only managed eight points, but went 2-2 from behind the arc.
Oklahoma State saw both of its leading scorers come off the bench as Joe Burton and Jeffery Carroll both managed 13 points for the Cowboys. Tyree Griffin had a double-double for the Pokes with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Leyton Hammonds was the final Cowboy in double-figures with 10.
Live to fight another day
The Cats did what they needed to survive and advance. While scoring fell off in the second half, the Cats were actually more efficient in the second stanza. Dean Wade played to a level we haven't seen since early in the year, and the team we saw tonight looked like a team that knew it was building for the future (by earning a few extra games this year).