KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas State had just finished putting in a little overtime, but Barry Brown already was talking about going back to work.
Not 30 minutes after hitting a driving bucket with 11.2 seconds remaining to give K-State a 66-64 OT victory against TCU in Thursday's Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals at Sprint Center, Brown insisted the Wildcats’ work had just begun.
Told that his team now was a virtual lock to play next week in the NCAA Tournament and asked about a possible letdown in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday, Brown shot down that notion with more effectiveness than his late floater shot down TCU.
“We’re not a lock right now until we win tomorrow and hopefully win the next one,” Brown said. “The only guarantee or lock is to win a Big 12 championship. We don’t want to have to leave it in someone else’s hands to make the decision.
“It’s not going to be a letdown. We’re going to come out with the same fight, the same grit we had today.”
That may take some doing, because the Wildcats (22-10) showed plenty of fight in outlasting the Horned Frogs (21-11) and setting up a semifinal clash with archrival Kansas, which defeated Oklahoma State 82-68.
The Wildcats not only rallied from a nine-point deficit with 15 minutes to play, they also picked themselves up after TCU’s Desmond Bane swished a 3-pointer from the right wing at the horn to force the extra session. Replays showed Bane barely got the shot off, the ball only an inch or two from his fingertips when the clock expired.
The teams jockeyed for position during the first four minutes of overtime before TCU’s Kenrich Williams hit two free throws with 1:03 remaining — the last of his game-high 20 points — to produce the game’s 13th and final tie at 64-64.
Back-to-back turnovers set the stage for Brown’s game-winning drive. Brown was fouled on the play but missed the bonus free throw.
K-State escaped with the win when Alex Robinson missed two free throws with 1.3 seconds to go. Robinson missed the second charity intentionally, but K-State’s Xavier Sneed tracked down the rebound to secure the victory.
"It’s just a gutsy win for our guys,” said K-State coach Bruce Weber, who directed his 200th Wildcat game, improving to 122-78. “Very, very proud of them.”
K-State won on a day when both Brown and fellow junior Dean Wade struggled, at least by their lofty standards. Wade finished with 12 points, nine in a back-and-forth opening half that ended in a 30-30 tie, and Brown managed only 11 points.
Still, Weber drew up the final play for Brown, who finished 4 of 11 from the field.
“For them to call a play for me, it shows me that no matter what I did for the previous 43 minutes, 44 minutes, they still have faith in me to win the game for us,” Brown said, adding that he never doubted himself or lost confidence.
For much of the game, however, the Wildcats relied on their usually stout defense and another big performance from sophomore Makol Mawien against TCU. K-State held TCU, the Big 12’s second-leading offense, under 70 points for the third straight game, and Mawien finished with team bests of 16 points and nine rebounds after scoring a career-high 18 against the Frogs earlier this year.
The Wildcats improved to 8-0 this season when they get double-figure scoring from Mawien, who was 6 for 7 from the floor and 4 for 4 from the free-throw line.
“I like the matchup,” Mawien said after pushing his point total against TCU to 43 this season. “They’re a good team and I like the competition.”
Sneed joined Wade with 12 points, including a key fallaway jumper in the first minutes of overtime, to give K-State four double-figure scorers.
“When we’ve been our best, we’ve had great balance,” Weber said.
K-State’s best on Thursday almost certainly was enough to guarantee it a place in the NCAA field of 68. But like Brown, Weber is far from satisfied.
The Wildcats have reached the Big 12 Tournament finals twice but never won the event, losing to KU in 2010 and 2013. Weber would like to change that, of course, but he again will have his in-state nemesis standing in his way, this year in Friday’s semifinal round.
“We came here to win the tournament and do something no one has done in K-State history, and they have that mindset,” Weber said. “Do something special. I would be surprised and disappointed if we didn’t have a great effort.
“Make every shot? I don’t know, but they will come and fight tomorrow night, I promise you that.”