MANHATTAN — It wasn’t a dire situation with Kansas State leading Oral Roberts midway through the second half, but it was a single-digit lead at home over a one-win team.
This figured to be another runaway win for K-State, but the Wildcats had trouble getting separation.
Dean Wade took care of that.
Wade scored eight straight Wildcat points in a span of 2½ minutes, taking the margin up to a more comfortable 12 and providing some breathing room in a 77-68 victory Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum.
“The coaches just expect more from me,” said Wade, who made 9 of 14 shots and 6 of 8 free throws. “Every day you have to bring your confidence, play your game. I didn’t play very well the first game in Vegas and I made an effort to focus on defensive rebounding and playing hard, and offense will come if you’re playing hard.”
Wade’s surge, which came in an impressive double-double performance of 25 points (career high) and 11 rebounds, didn’t exactly seal the outcome. The Golden Eagles (1-7) came back to get as close as five points but the Wildcats (6-1) held on.
We didn’t play well; we weren’t sharp,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. ““We wrote on the board: Who is going to give us a special effort?” Dean did, and thank goodness for that. He came through.
“We had a lot of open 3s in the first half and didn’t make them (8 of 20). We switched our zone offense a little the second half and got it to Dean in that short corner and he made some plays. It’s great for Dean and it’s great for us. He definitely stepped up tonight.”
Both teams had a notable run in the first half, which ended in a 42-34 lead for K-State. The Wildcats used a 17-2 run to build a 24-10 lead at the 8:35 mark but the Eagles responded with a 16-8 spurt to keep in touch.
The Wildcats were reliant on the long ball against the ORU zone defense, going 8 of 20 on 3-pointers in the first half.
“They weren’t bad shots, we just weren’t hitting them,” Wildcat point guard Kamau Stokes said.
ORU kept hanging around, down only five points before K-State pushed the lead to nine on baskets by Mawdo Sallah and Barry Brown.
That’s when Wade erupted. He kept a possession alive with two offensive rebounds before knocking down a 15-foot baseline jumper. He followed that with a short jumper in the lane, an 18-footer along the baseline and then a bucket in the lane to give the Wildcats a 64-52 lead with 7:36 remaining.
“The first half we got a little stagnant in their zone,” Wade said. “The second half we had better movement. You have to attack a zone from the middle and the guards did a good job getting us moving and getting us open shots.
“Kam penetrated the zone and got me easy drop-offs, and Barry did the same thing. Our guard play was good and created easy buckets for the bigs.”
K-State’s lead was down to five with just under five minutes remaining but baskets down the stretch by Brown, Xavier Sneed and Stokes kept the Wildcats in front.
Stokes finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals while Brown had 9 points and 5 assists. Guard Sam Kearns scored 21 points for ORU and Javan White had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“A win is a win but we’re definitely not happy with the win,” Stokes said. “We have to move forward.”