Remember when Kansas State didn’t have anyone to turn to when it needed a clutch basket late in games?
Those times are clearly over now and really have been for a little while. In what should go down as The Barry Brown Game, the senior scored 18 of his team’s last 21 points, capped off by a game-winning layup with 5 seconds left, to give K-State an enormous 58-57 road win at Iowa State on Saturday. Lindell Wigginton’s desperation 30-footer at the buzzer didn’t come close, and the Cyclone fans were left with nothing to do but boo after their team’s first home loss of the season.
Iowa State also failed to reach 65 points for the first time since last March, and it’s the first time since last January they didn’t even hit 60. Of course, it helped that K-State used up virtually all 30 seconds of the shot clock on far too many empty possessions, but Iowa State still shot just 42 percent from the field.
The Cyclones also missed 6 of 12 free throws, most notably Wigginton’s front end of a one-on-one with 15 seconds left. We may never know how Brown, who had just hit two free throws to cut the lead to one, got an essentially clear lane all the way to the hoop for his easiest game-winning layup yet, even though he was K-State’s only offense in the second half.
Microwave scored 18 of K-State’s final 21 points to total 23 for the game in 36 minutes, and he even dished out a team-high 4 assists in the first half. Oh, and he also held talented freshman Tyrese Haliburton to 6 points on 2-of-5 shooting. With all due respect to Dean Wade, it might be past time to start calling Barry Kansas State’s best player.
The ‘Cats finally found a way to get off to a good start, with Makol Mawien hitting a tough shot on the first possession. Unfortunately, that one didn’t count because of a shot clock violation, but Kam Stokes hit a three the next time down the floor to put K-State ahead 3-0 and it hit four of its first eight field goal attempts.
Solid defense led to a slow start for Iowa State, but the Cyclones eventually heated up a little to answer with a 9-0 run. This time, though, the Wildcats’ drought lasted a mere 3 minutes before they scored 10 straight points, bookended by two more Stokes 3-pointers as he scored all 12 of his points before halftime.
How good were things going for K-State’s offense? The ‘Cats hit all 7 of their free throws and on one possession, they fell into the all-too-familiar habit of pointless dribbling and standing around while the shot clock got low, only to have Barry Brown hit nothing but net on a high-arcing three over 6-foot-5 Halliburton.
That put Kansas State ahead by 10 and Cartier Diarra even joined in the fun, hitting both of his threes to make the team 6-of-11 for the half. A 35-26 lead gave the Wildcats some room for error heading into the second half, and they would need it.
After Makol Mawien opened the scoring Iowa State responded with a pair of threes from Talen Horton-Tucker to cut the lead to five. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Marial Shayok and Lindell Wigginton would soon tie the game at 40.
Brown provided the answer with a few buckets to keep K-State ahead for a while as everyone else faded away offensively, but it hardly looked like it would be enough. Between Mawien’s basket with 19:05 left and Dean Wade’s driving layup with 2:10 left, Brown hit every field goal and scored 14 of Kansas State’s 15 points. Even that basket only happened because Iowa State effectively denied Brown the ball when Dean tried to find his fellow senior on the wing before realizing the lane was wide open
Naturally, Iowa State took advantage and led by as much as 7 with five minutes remaining. A physical game with only 29 fouls played to the Wildcats’ advantage and they won in Ames for the second straight season.
What we learned
1. Dean Wade is not himself yet. It was great to see Dean back on the floor and he did a great job getting involved on the glass right away, finishing with a team-high 9 rebounds as K-State beat Iowa State on the boards 39-31 and grabbed 13 (!) offensive rebounds. But it might take a little while for him to get his offensive mojo back. Some unlucky rolls on the rim early certainly didn’t help, but he also looked a little tentative and flat-out uncomfortable at times.
2. This team isn’t going to be intimidated and will never quit. Bruce Weber had already pretty well solved his road woes by winning four Big 12 games away from home in each of the last two seasons, and all the experience in this year’s group is only making it better. Also, defense travels well. The 21-point comeback over West Virginia was impressive, but I’d argue the late comeback in a hostile environment says even more about the makeup of this team, which should be very valuable if the ‘Cats reach the postseason. Now about those consistency issues….
3. Kansas State can shoot free throws! The percentage went down a bit in the second half and even Barry missed one, but the ‘Cats still finished 11-14 from the line, or 78.6%. Let’s keep that going, please.
Don’t count this team out of anything yet. It’s probably a little premature to say K-State put itself back into the Big 12 title race with this win, but it’s clear no one can afford to take the ‘Cats lightly. Hopefully they’ve figured things out just in time, with a trip to Oklahoma, as well as visits from TCU and Texas Tech all coming up in the next ten days.