AMES, Iowa — Barry Brown hit a game-winning layup to lift the Kansas State basketball team past Iowa State 58-57 on Saturday at Hilton Coliseum.
The senior guard flexed his muscles at midcourt and then hugged teammates to celebrate.
He deserved to soak up the moment. This was a big upset victory for the Wildcats (12-4, 2-2 Big 12), who not long ago were off to an underwhelming 0-2 start in conference play. But their troubles may be behind them after a win like this. Iowa State (12-4, 2-2) was previously unbeaten at home and obliterated league-favorite Kansas here last week.
Brown, for the second game in a row, put the Wildcats on his back when they needed big plays in the closing minutes.
"I am playing with good confidence man, myself and my teammates," Brown said. "What we have done in the gym, I feel like everyone feels like if we miss a shot we are going to make the next one. We all have that supreme confidence that we need to win basketball games."
K-State players needed an abundance of confidence when Iowa State pulled ahead 57-52 with less than three minutes remaining.
The Cyclones appeared on their way to victory after storming back from an 11-point deficit. K-State had lost its scoring mojo and was struggling to answer the Cyclones' run. Then Brown took the game over by driving to the basket and making good things happen at the rim.
"His confidence and aggression is bar none," K-State forward Dean Wade said. "No one can really stop him. I don't think anyone in the country can really stay in front of him. You add all the other weapons that we have in Xavier (Sneed), Cartier (Diarra), Makol (Mawien) and it's hard for defenses to really key in on one person on our team, and that lets Barry be aggressive and attack the whole game. I think today is a perfect example of that."
Brown made a pair of free throws with 16 seconds remaining to pull K-State within 57-56 following a Wade layup. Then Brown hit the game-winning layup with 4 seconds left on the clock. He finished with 23 points. It was a heck of an encore to his 29-point effort against West Virginia on Wednesday, which also featured a go-ahead layup in the final minute.
"Obviously, Barry made some big, big plays," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "Not just the winning bucket, but the play right before that."
K-State depended on Brown for the bulk of its offense in the second half. He scored 16 of the team's final 18 points.
The result made it a happy return for Wade, a senior forward who saw his first action in weeks after missing the past six games because of a torn tendon in his right foot. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year looked rusty while scoring two points and grabbing nine rebounds, but he helped the Wildcats spread the floor and forced the Cyclones to respect his shooting ability.
Brown finished with a game-high 23 points, while Kamau Stokes added 12. But they both benefited from Wade being on the floor.
Nick Weiler-Babb led Iowa State with 11 points. No other ISU player reached double figures. K-State made life miserable for the Cyclones all game by playing pressure defense.
This was, overall, some of the most complete basketball K-State has played all season. The Wildcats' offense abandoned them at times in the second half, which was the main reason why the Cyclones were able to surge ahead in the second half, but they did enough to win late.
That seemed fitting, considering how well K-State began the game. The first half was a thing of beauty for the Wildcats.
Kamau Stokes led the way by scoring 12 points before halftime. The senior guard was aggressive whenever he possessed the ball and made three 3-pointers. But he got lots of support.
Cartier Diarra busted out of his recent slump by scoring eight points in the first half. He was much more active than he has been in recent games, diving for loose balls, getting after it on defense and grabbing rebounds. Six different K-State players scored in the first half.
Surprisingly, none of them were Wade. He showed his rust by passing up open shots and taking bad angles when he did decide to drive toward the rim.
K-State took an 11-6 lead, and that advantage would have been more if not for Shaun Neal-Williams and Stokes missing open layups. The Wildcats held Iowa State to just 42 percent shooting and nine 3-pointers. It entered the day averaging 81.3 points.
"Any road win in the Big 12 is huge, especially against these guys," Wade said. "They are playing great now. Defensively, we have got to be proud of what we did today. They are one of the best scoring teams in the Big 12 and we held them to 57."
K-State led 35-26 at halftime, a score that surely surprised folks across the conference. Order seemed to be restored when Iowa State pulled ahead by seven in the second half, but K-State wouldn't be denied.
Not with Brown making big plays in clutch moments. Again.
"I just put on the board: 'Be the team of the week in the Big 12,' " Weber said. "That meant we had to win. If that happened, obviously, Barry has to be the player of the week. He had two game winners."