WACO, Texas — Dismiss him if you wish, but Kansas State’s Barry Brown seems to be quite serious about this Big 12 title talk.
Just two days after saying the Wildcats were dangerous enough to win the Big 12, Brown scored 34 points to lead K-State to its third straight win, a 90-83 conquest Monday night against Baylor at the Ferrell Center.
With the win and West Virginia’s loss at TCU, the Wildcats (15-5, 5-3) suddenly find themselves tied for second place in the muddled Big 12, 1.5 games behind league leader Kansas. Oh, by the way, the Jayhawks just happen to visit K-State next Monday.
That showdown promises to be a big one. Brown made sure of it, hurting the Bears (12-8, 2-6) almost every way imaginable. He slashed to the basket, splashed from the perimeter and converted from the free-throw line, going 9-for-16 from the field, 4-for-8 from beyond the arc and an immaculate 12-for-12 from the foul line.
The biggest of his buckets came with 5:40 to play when he drilled a guarded 3 after the Bears had trimmed a 19-point deficit to 73-66.
Brown got plenty of help from Dean Wade, too. The fellow K-State junior scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Wade hit two huge shots in the final 3:22 and also made a pair of important free throws in the final minute to help keep Baylor at bay.
Makol Mawien added 11 and Cartier Diarra 10 for the Wildcats.
Manu Lecomte scored 18 points to pace Baylor.
The Wildcats took control of this one from start, jumping out to leads of 10-4 and 22-10 by the first two TV timeouts. Wade was unstoppable early, scoring all 11 of his first-half points during the first seven minutes to stake K-State to the 12-point advantage.
K-State extended the lead to 29-13 when Mawien scored off an assist from Brown at the 8:09 mark, the last of his nine first-half points.
The Wildcats still led by 16 when Brown drilled a 3-pointer from the corner at the 6:27 mark, but Baylor wouldn’t go away. With Lecomte repeatedly getting to the free-throw line and Baylor heating up from outside, the Bears used a 15-4 run to claw within 39-34.
The deficit remained at five, 45-40, entering the break when Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. swished a 3 from the key with three seconds to play.
Led by Brown’s 13 points, K-State hit 15 of 26 first-half field goals, including 6 of 11 3s. Baylor was 13-for-30 and 3-for-6.