Behind a near-perfect offensive performance by Dean Wade and the best team offensive performance of the season in the half-court, Kansas State (16-5, 6-2 Big 12) dominated Oklahoma State (9-12, 2-6) on the road, 75-57, in Stillwater on Saturday.
Coming off arguably their worst game of the season last week against Texas A&M, the Wildcats used crisp offensive movement and stellar shooting to pull away from the Cowboys, after the game was relatively close through the first seventeen minutes. K-State finished the first half on a 13-0 run over the last 2:55 to stretch a 3-point lead to a 43-27 halftime advantage. After the break, the Cats held Oklahoma State scoreless for the first six minutes and extended the lead to 49-27. The game was never close again.
Wade was the day’s big story. The 6-10 senior poured in 24 points on perfect 9-for-9 shooting from the floor, which included three hoops from outside the 3-point arc. He also had six rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. The only blemishes on his slate included two turnovers and an uncharacteristic 3-6 performance from the line.
Dean was hardly alone in playing well. Barry Brown finished with 18 points on 6-11, 5-9 marksmanship. Cartier Diarra scored 10 on only five shots, hitting 2 of 3 from deep. Xavier Sneed chipped in eight.
Curtis Jones scored 14, and Lindy Waters, III added 12 for Oklahoma State.
The 18-point final margin is misleading. The game was nowhere near that close. After a Mike McGuirl three with 6:18 to play, the Cats were one point shy of doubling up the Cowboys, at 69-35. From there, Coach Weber gradually inserted substitutes, until all of the starters were on the bench for the final five minutes of the game. Oklahoma State outscored the subs 17-3 to close it out. Weber won’t mind so much, since the big lead allowed his key players to rest ahead of what will be an epic battle against the Jayhawks Tuesday night.
For the game, K-State shot 26-49 from the field (53.1%), including 16-29 from deep (55.2%). They out-rebounded the Cowboys, 36-26, and had 19 assists to O-State’s 13.
The win was K-State’s third straight in Stillwater and its sixth straight in league play since starting 0-2 and giving the impression that the season may be headed down a disappointing path. The Wildcats keep at least a share of first place through the weekend, with Baylor hosting TCU in the league’s last game of the day, trying to remain tied at the top. Whether the Bears win or lose, Tuesday’s game against KU in Bramlage promises to be a raucous one.
What we Learned
- Dean Wade is good. Okay, we didn’t just learn that. But his performance today dispelled any doubts about whether he is back from the foot injury. Wade hit open threes, set his man up and created space for easy shots with tremendous footwork and body positioning, and found open cutters when the defense gave him too much focus. Some of us wondered if we would ever see this Dean again. Thank goodness, we have. This Dean can really propel his team to astronomical heights.
- K-State can shoot the ball, at least sometimes. After last week, when the Cats only managed 53 points and shot an embarrassing 7-31 from 3-point range, the common refrain was that this team should never shoot anywhere near 30 long-balls. Today, they “only” shot 29, but knocked down a season-high 16 from deep. Today’s attempts were different, though. They generally came after crisp ball movement had shifted the defense, and shooters were able to catch and shoot in rhythm, rather than heaving without their feet set. Forty percent from outside would be really good. Fifty-five percent is crazy. If the team can play well enough down the stretch to reach the efficiency numbers they had last year, K-State fans will enjoy the last several weeks of the season.
- Start the hype for Tuesday. If you didn’t watch any of the KU/Texas Tech game in Lawrence, let me fill you in: A day after learning the Silvio De Sousa had been ruled ineligible, and without the services of emerging talent Marcus Garrett, the Jayhawks controlled the Red Raiders throughout the contest, ultimately winning 79-63. They had four players in double figures and shot 46% against Tech’s top-rated defense. Don’t look now, but they look like KU again. The game in Bramlage will be to retain a spot in first place. Win, and the ‘Cats have a two-game lead over the ‘Hawks. Lose, and they fall into a tie, and both teams may be looking up at Baylor. The last few times the game has been over-hyped, things did not turn out so well for the Wildcats. Dean, Barry and Kam should be motivated to get their first win in the series. Let’s hope they can harness and capitalize on the emotion, rather than letting it speed them up. A win would be huge, obviously. Win or lose, the Cats need to continue the string of good play they’ve been riding in league games for nearly a month, now.