NORMAN, OKLA. — Now might be a good time to jump back on Kansas State’s basketball bandwagon.
The Wildcats have erased an ugly start to conference play by winning back-to-back road games in some of the league’s toughest environments.
The latest victory came over Oklahoma 74-61 on Wednesday at Lloyd Noble Center. The No. 20 Sooners were previously unbeaten at home this season, but the Wildcats beat them without any hint of drama thanks to one of their most complete efforts.
“I thought we played well the whole game,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said, “on both ends. We turned them over 16 times, shot 50 percent and shared the basketball with 15 assists.”
Seniors Barry Brown and Dean Wade led the way.That wouldn’t have felt notable a few months ago when they were two of the most decorated players in the Big 12, but it hasn’t happened much lately. Brown has struggled at times. Wade has been hurt. K-State has been up and down. But everything clicked against the Sooners and they formed a true dynamic duo.
Wade, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, looked back to his aggressive self while scoring 20 points. He was at his best early, coming off screens to hit open jumpers and finishing layups at the rim. K-State scored the game’s first eight points, and he was the main reason why.
Brown, a preseason all-conference selection, eclipsed 20 points for the third straight game, finishing with 25. He is coming to his own at an ideal time for the Wildcats. He had an all-around good game by scoring in different areas while also sending out five assists and grabbing three rebounds.
They provided a microcosm for the game late in the second half when Brown sent a pass to Wade on the right wing and Wade swished the open three-pointer. Brown created space for his teammate and Wade took advantage. After the points went on the scoreboard, they pointed at each and nodded their heads.
“That is how they play,” K-State guard Kamau Stokes said. “When they get going it is tough to stop. That makes the game open up more, because then everyone is keying in on them. The way they were scoring, today that opened up a lot of things for us in the second half.”Did it ever. Throw in timely shots from Makol Mawien, Cartier Diarra and Kamau Stokes and some always solid defense, and K-State did more than enough to extend its winning streak to three.
K-State (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) is now all alone in third place of the Big 12 standings. It leapfrogged Oklahoma (13-4, 2-3), and exorcised some awful memories in this building.
Things have not gone well for the Wildcats the last three times they have faced the Sooners on the road. Oklahoma won here 86-77 last season, 81-51 two years ago and 86-76 the year before that.
This was a much different game. K-State never trailed and won by a wide margin.
“It was good,” Wade said. “We were moving the basketball and everyone had good energy. It was just an all-around fun game.”The Wildcats played their best basketball in the second half. Oklahoma stayed within 30-24 at halftime, but it was no match for K-State from that point on. Even when things appeared to be breaking the Sooners’ way, the Wildcats found a way to turn the tables.
That much was obvious when Xavier Sneed had his pocket picked by Jamal Bieniemy and the OU guard had an open lane to the basket. Sneed hustled back on defense and forced him to pass to trailing teammate Rashard Odomes. Sneed moved in front of his path, planted his feet and drew a charge.
K-State led 45-36 at the time and pulled away from there.
The Wildcats will try to keep their hot streak going in their next game against TCU on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.