MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats are finding that winning cures a lot of ills.
Especially when their shots aren’t falling.
The No. 12-ranked Wildcats’ early-season shooting woes continued Monday night, but again they were able to finish strong, escaping with a 64-56 victory over Denver at Bramlage Coliseum.
Senior guard Barry Brown triggered a decisive nine-point run midway through the second half, and the Wildcats were able to hold off a stubborn Denver team the rest of the way.
“We found a way to win and learn from it,” said K-State coach Bruce Weber, whose Wildcats shot just 38.3 percent from the field and were 6 of 27 from 3-point range. “There’s a lot of teams, a lot of high majors, lost games this weekend.
“We could have folded easily, and Barry obviously stepped up big.”
Brown finished with 25 points, including three second-half 3-pointers, and Dean Wade grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds. Wade and Xavier Sneed added 12 points each as the Wildcats improved to 2-0.
During one stretch in the second period, Brown scored 11 straight points for the Wildcats.
“I just wanted to help my teammates out,” Brown said. “We kind of had a little slump.
“I wasn’t really feeling the energy. I was just wanting to bring it so that we could get a spark, play more defense, get rebounds and keep it going.”
The Wildcats squandered a double-digit lead late in the first half and trailed by two points early in the second before righting the ship.
Denver (1-1) had the last seven points of the first period to close within 31-28 at the break, then reeled off five more. The Pioneers took a 33-31 lead on Ade Murkey’s basket, then went up three on a Murkey 3-pointer with 17:03 left that capped a 15-2 run.
Denver took its last lead, 38-37, on a Jase Townsend bucket at the 13:48 mark, and after Austin Trice’s free throw tied it, Brown scored the next eight. His 3-pointer with 10:10 left made it 46-38.
Denver got it back to three points when Townsend scored in the lane, but Brown and Kamau Stokes hit a pair of 3-pointers, sandwiched around two Pioneer free throws to create some breathing room.
K-State struggled against Denver’s zone defense, dropping them to 7 of 40 on 3-pointers for the season. The Wildcats also didn’t help their cause by going 12 of 27 from the foul line.
“I’m not concerned about it,” Wade said of the 3-point woes. “We’ve got great shooters on this team.
“They’re going to start falling here. We’ve gone through a little rough stretch, but we’ll get back in the gym and get our confidence back up.”
The Wildcats used an 11-5 spurt late in the half, led by Brown, to go up 31-21 on Trice’s free throw with 1:58 left. But Denver roared back, trimming it to three on Rosga’s second-chance 3-pointer at the 20-second mark.
The Wildcats now will look for some warmer weather to help heat up their offense, heading to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam and a first-round matchup Friday against Eastern Kentucky.