MANHATTAN — Kansas State guards Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes were at the top of their game, combining for 44 points in a victory at Iowa State last Friday.
The Wildcats’ junior backcourt duo was not at their best Monday with a total of 20 points on 5-of-23 shooting in a 77-69 loss to No. 6 West Virginia. While Stokes did have six assists and two steals, he shot 0-for-10 while Brown scored 14 points with three steals but was 5 of 13 with seven turnovers and no rebounds.
The unbalanced stat line for both players was a postgame talking point for K-State coach Bruce Weber as he referenced Jevon Carter, the Mountaineers’ All-Big 12 senior guard.
“They fought the game a little bit today instead of letting it come,” Weber said. “I brought up Jevon Carter to our guys after the game. He only has three points but 10 assists, eight rebounds, three steals and his team won.
“Every game is different. The other night it was easy — boom, boom … making shots and flying around — and tonight it wasn’t. Every night you still have to help the team be successful. “
The Wildcats have four proven scoring options with Brown, Stokes, Dean Wade and Xavier Sneed. In the Iowa State game, Wade poured in a career-high 34 points while Stokes scored 23 and Brown 21.
Sneed took the lead against West Virginia with 20 points, going 6 of 11 overall from the field and 6 of 9 from 3-point range, while Wade was solid with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The two players with the hot hand this game had just 19 shots between them.
“I trust Barry and Kam with whatever shot they’re taking,” Wade said. “If they’re feeling it, I have 100 percent trust in them. Even if I’m feeling hot, I still trust them with the shot. If they throw it back I’m going to shoot it, obviously, but I trust all my teammates.”
Weber said Sneed and Wade needed more touches.
“I don’t know how many times Kam is going to go 0 for 10 but, obviously, that doesn’t help us,” he said.
“I think we took some tough shots. We could have been a little more patient. When they double-teamed the ball screen, that’s why Xavier got open looks. He’s 6-for-9 from 3 so you have to find him more. Dean’s 5-for-8 and gets to the free throw line … we probably weren’t patient enough to find a way to win and get over the hump.”
Getting over the hump will require more balance and consistency, plus some contribution from the post players that has not developed.
The Wildcats have been effective scoring in transition but managed only five fast-break points, in part due to a 38-27 rebounding advantage for West Virginia.
“We have to get stops,” Sneed said. “It all starts on the defensive end, getting stops and rebounds. We got outrebounded today and they got a couple of offensive rebounds so if we can’t get a stop we can’t get out in the fast break so we have to pick it up there.
“We have to do a better job on the defensive end. In tough parts of the game we have to step up.”