If K-State men’s basketball had waited 4 minutes, 56 seconds more to finally erase Iowa State’s 20-point lead in Tuesday night’s road game, it would have been the Wildcats’ biggest comeback in team history.
Instead, Barry Brown’s go-ahead layup came with 4:57 left in the game, and the Cyclones promptly retook the lead, which they didn’t relinquish again. It was K-State’s third conference road loss, all by five points or fewer, and the Wildcats are back to .500 in Big 12 Conference play at 4-4.
The Wildcats dug themselves a hole in the first half, and the Cyclones were more than happy to shovel dirt on them, on their way to 11-for-23 3-point shooting for the game. Iowa State never fully buried K-State, though. Brown’s layup to take the lead completed a 14-minute stretch in the second half that saw K-State outscore Iowa State 32-11.
Thomas wasted no time reclaiming the lead with a jumper on the next possession, and the game remained a one- or two-possession lead for Iowa State the final four-plus minutes. K-State had some opportunities to tie or take the lead again, none better than when Kamau Stokes stole an inbounds pass with 22 seconds left, down by two.
But, because K-State can’t have nice things, Stokes promptly turned the ball back over to the Cyclones. Iowa State made three of four free throws as K-State tried to extend the game, but the Wildcats couldn’t find the bottom of the basket in the end, losing 70-65.
The question K-State will have to answer soon is whether it can get victories in Manhattan in the rematches of these close road losses. We know they are good enough to do so, but will they rise to the occasion?
Before answering that question, though, K-State goes on the road for a non-conference matchup, at Tennessee on Saturday. At 11-9, Tennessee’s record is inferior to K-State’s, but the Volunteers’ non-conference strength of schedule was vastly superior, with games against ranked Oregon, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Gonzaga teams (all Tennessee losses). The only real black mark on the Volunteers’ schedule is a season-opening loss to Chattanooga, the memory of which was likely expunged by Tennessee’s victory over No. 4 Kentucky Tuesday night.
The player of the game for K-State was senior Wesley Iwundu. Iwundu led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 and added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. He was joined in double-figure scoring by D.J. Johnson, Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown and Xavier Sneed. Brown led all rebounders with eight. Carlbe Ervin II contributed a lot in limited action tonight. Although he only scored three points in 12 minutes, he added five rebounds an an assist.
Dean Wade was essentially invisible, owing to a sprained foot, Wichita Eagle K-State beat writer Kellis Robinett tweeted after the game.