The story line to start the night was Cartier Diarra trying to fill the shoes of injured point guard, Kamau Stokes. The story line to finish the night was Barry Brown filling up the hoop for a career-best 38 points.
More remarkable than Brown’s point total itself is the efficiency with which he scored them. He only shot 17 times, connecting on 12. He was 3-of-4 from the three-point arc and—a small blemish if there was one, on this night—11-of-16 from the free throw line. He also exhibited his personal specialty, pilfering six steals. Lest it appear he hogged the ball, he found time to dish two assists, as well. All of that, Coach Weber says, while Brown has been battling bronchitis. What might he have done if he’d been healthy?
Diarra, the secondary story line, also put his potential on display. The redshirt freshman scored 17, tossed four assists, and snared four rebounds. He did commit three turnovers, but was certainly a net positive in the game.
After struggling to find the range from outside, sophomore swingman Xavier Sneed took it inside the arc and got to the free throw line to score 11 points. He also had 12 of the team’s 28 total rebounds, to finish with a double-double. Dean Wade had a quiet night offensively, shooting only five times from the field, but making all six of his free throws to finish with 10 points.
The game opened with balanced, team basketball. The post players, especially, were effective catching in the high post and feeding cutters for easy hoops. K-State led 27-18 at the 5:59 mark. But some empty possessions and shoddy shot selection down the stretch led to Oklahoma State run-outs and easy buckets on the visitors’ end. The Cowboys outscored the Wildcats 15-6 to close the half, and led 34-33 at the break.
The second half started slowly, until the Microwave heated up again. Brown drove to the basket to finish five lay-ups before stepping outside to knock down his third triple of the night at the 9:48 mark, giving K-State a 53-48 lead. After Oklahoma State fought back to tie it at 58, the ‘Cats seemingly put the game away with a 20-9 run that made the score 78-67 with 1:23 to play.
But the ‘Pokes did not give in easily. K-State hit its free throws late, but stopped defending, allowing Oklahoma State to lengthen the end of the game. The ‘Cats could not exhale until Brown’s 37th and 38th points dropped through from the charity stripe for an 86-80 cushion with 12 seconds left. A meaningless jumper at the end yielded the final margin.
Oklahoma State was led by reserve guard Brandon Averette’s 22 and Jeffrey Carroll’s 20. Kendall Smith added 12, and Lindy Waters, III had 11.
In what has become a running theme, the visitors out-rebounded K-State 37-28. The ‘Cats had only 8 turnovers. Oklahoma State had 11, which is surprising, given that Brown’s steals accounted for six of them.
K-State next faces They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named in the barn down the river Saturday morning, at 11:00.
What we Learned
- Barry Brown can score in multiple ways. He can hit the three. He can take you off the bounce and lay it in. He can pick your pocket, shield your feeble block attempt and finish for the and-1. And if you back off to stop the drive, he can bury the three over your outstretched hand. He can close out a game at the free throw stripe, even after struggling from there through the first two-thirds of the game. At least, he sure could do all of those things tonight. And K-State needed every bit of it to salt the game away.
- Cartier Diarra may be just fine in relief of Kamau Stokes. Small sample size, sure. But he handled the ball fine, distributed it well, and made some plays with his length that Stokes may not have had in his arsenal. He drove himself into trouble a handful of times and got hung up on a couple of enormous Mitchell Solomon screens, which is perhaps understandable. Experience should help. Here’s hoping a contest against KU’s Devonte’ Graham this weekend does not give him the kind of experience he’d prefer to forget.
- If Mike McGuirl doesn’t get more playing time than he did tonight over the next few weeks, he should be furious about shedding his redshirt. He played only three minutes and was not particularly effective, going 0-1 from the field. But if a coach decides to burn a redshirt in the second week of January, he’d better find a way to make it worthwhile, to both the program and the player.