Now, this is the team K-State fans expected to see this season. Barry Brown scored 25 points, Dean Wade added 20, and the Wildcats (12-4, 3-2 Big 12) led No. 20 Oklahoma (12-4, 2-3) from wire-to-wire in a 74-61 win on the road in Norman, Oklahoma.
Along with Saturday’s win over then-No. 20 Iowa State, the victory gave Bruce Weber consecutive road wins against ranked opponents for the first time in his K-State tenure. The last time the Wildcats accomplished the feat, Frank Martin’s last Wildcat team beat No. 9 Baylor and No. 3 Missouri in February of 2012.
The game showed how high K-State’s ceiling can be when Brown and Wade both play well, and play off each other. Barry’s 25 points came on 11-19 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range. When he wasn’t scoring, Brown was running the pick-and-pop to perfection with Wade. Several of Brown’s 5 assists came on such plays, with Dean’s 20 points coming on 8-14 shooting, including 2-4 from three.
It is perhaps fitting that both players reached career milestones in the game. Wade passed Mitch Richmond’s mark of 1,329 points for 11th all time on the K-State career scoring charts. Richmond put up the impressive totals in only two seasons, after transferring from Moberly Junior College. Of course, Dean has accomplished the feat while battling through multiple injuries over the past two seasons.
Not to be outdone, Brown passed Cartier Martin’s 1,549 career points for 8th in all-time scoring. Barry, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, has been on a tear over the last three games, going for 29, 23, and now 25 points. After getting to the basket repeatedly against West Virginia and Iowa State, he scored tonight mostly in the mid-range and from 3-point range. His well-rounded attack should spread the floor for other players to contribute in future games.
The outcome against OU was not entirely driven by scoring, though. K-State played aggressive man-to-man defense, holding Oklahoma to a season-low 24 points in the first half. The ‘Cats forced the Sooners into 16 turnovers and out-rebounded them by one, 29-28. The Sooners did not help their own cause by shooting a ghastly 12-23 (52.2%) from the free throw stripe and an only slightly more respectable 5-18 (27.8%) from three-point range. K-State repeatedly beat Oklahoma to loose balls and looked throughout the game like the team more motivated to make the little plays that turn the outcome of games between closely matched opponents.
K-State rode runs of 12-4 in the first half and 13-4 in the second, after OU had cut the margin to only 5, to keep the home team at arm’s length throughout the contest. After K-State went up 6-0 a little over two minutes after the opening tip, it was never less than a two-possession game the rest of the way.
Makol Mawien added 8 points, with Xavier Sneed and Kamau Stokes contributing 7 and 6, respectively. Mawien also had 7 rebounds, and Sneed added 6 to lead a balanced effort on the boards.
Oklahoma was led by Christian James, who scored 20, and Rashard Odom, who came off the bench to add 17.
What we Learned
- If Brown and Wade play like that, and the supporting cast contributes solid defense, timely scoring and hustle plays, this team is capable of beating any team in the Big 12. Yes, even that team. Keep in mind, Iowa State completely dominated KU in Ames before K-State went into Hilton Coliseum and stole a close win.
- K-State’s defense is settling into a run of excellence. Since the Marquette game, the ‘Cats have held 8 of 10 opponents below 65 points, and several below 50. If the offense can consistently find its way to 70, the squad will pick up lots of wins by locking down the opponent.
- Remember a few years ago, when the tournament committee looked for meaningful road wins on K-State’s resume and found the slate empty? In the past five days the Wildcats have taken a businesslike approach on the road against ranked teams, and earned big wins. That 20-point home loss to Texas looks like an anomaly now, though Texas may be better than any of us expected when all of the results are tallied.
We will see if Bruce and the guys can bring the same solid effort on the home court, as TCU, fresh after falling out of the top-25 and then taking out their anger on West Virginia, 98-67, comes to Bramlage for a 3:00 tip-off on Saturday.