MANHATTAN — Someone obviously needed to step up Wednesday for Kansas State.
One look at the protective boot Kamau Stokes was wearing on his left leg was sufficient proof.
No better man then to give the Wildcats a lift than the other member of their backcourt duo, Barry Brown.
The 6-foot-3 junior guard did a little of everything, but most importantly netted a career-high 38 points, as Kansas State toppled Oklahoma State 86-82 in Bramlage Coliseum.
“It was a gutsy thing. I told the coaches it was almost like the first game of the year, really,’’ said Bruce Weber, referencing the critical loss of Stokes, who averaged 13.6 points and was the Cats’ assists leader.
The K-State coach went on to credit Brown for the leadership he exhibited once the Wildcats returned home from a loss at Texas Tech.
At that point, Brown wanted to watch film and get up shots in the practice gym.
“Our mindset was just for everyone to pick it up a bit, turn it up a notch, bring what he brought but just a little bit more,’’ Brown said.
No doubt he was ready for the Pokes, saving his best for the second half. That’s when Brown scored 26 of his points on 8-for-10 shooting, including 18 of the first 22 points the Cats scored in the half after trailing 34-33 at the break.
“I had a pretty big game that helped us go over the top and win this one,’’ said Brown, whose scoring total was the best by a Wildcat since February 2011 when Jacob Pullen also recorded 38. “My teammates were finding me in the right spots. Coach was calling the right plays for me to thrive in and we executed.’’
Fast-break buckets by Brown, a handful off his six steals (the most by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game), showed off the sneaky positioning he can get while finishing at the rim. Another drive in the half-court included some kind of dazzling Euro-crossover move with 14 minutes left.
“Getting to the basket, that’s what I love,’’ Weber said.
Yes, Brown definitely showed what he can do for you if you happened to be a K-State fan fretting over consecutive Big 12 defeats. The Cats improved to 12-4 overall and 2-2 in the conference entering an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Kansas.
The backcourt replacement for Stokes, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury he suffered in a loss Saturday at Texas Tech, also sparkled.
Freshman Cartier Diarra moved into the starting lineup and added 17 points. A 3-pointer by Diarra with 5:19 remaining helped K-State gain separation as part of a 12-4 run after the game was tied at 58.
“One of the big steps too, I thought, was turnovers. We only had eight and that gave us a chance,’’ Weber said.
K-State weathered a late comeback bid by Oklahoma State, which found the Cats parading to the line in the final minute when they made eight of 10 free throws. Brown was 11 of 16 from the stripe.
Sophomore forward Xavier Sneed added his first double-double with a career-high 12 rebounds, while scoring 11 points.
“We’ve been on him about rebounding and playing hard,’’ Weber said. “He took it upon himself to do a good job guarding (Jeffrey) Carroll. He played a complete game tonight. He was exhausted.’’
Sophomore guard Brandon Averette scored 22 points to lead Oklahoma State (11-5, 1-3). Carroll actually exceeded his team-high average of 15.9 points by adding 20. The Cowboys managed a 37-28 rebounding advantage behind nine boards from senior forward Mitchell Solomon, but Brown offset that work inside with his play on both ends.
“We know with Stokes being out, he’d have to step up,’’ Carroll said of Brown. “He’s a great player. He’s capable of making great plays and it showed.’’
K-State jumped to a 13-6 lead and then went up by nine, 27-18, with 5:59 to go in the first half.
Oklahoma State stormed back, however, scoring on all but two of its last 10 first-half possessions. A dunk by Solomon with 46 seconds left gave the Cowboys a 34-33 halftime edge.
Brown scored 12 first-half points as the Cats moved the ball well offensively, but the Pokes countered by getting to the rim consistently late in the half. OSU shot just 36.4 percent in the half, but exerted its authority on the glass with a 23-15 advantage.