MANHATTAN, Kansas – (12/12) K-State used a team effort to bully its way past Oklahoma at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday night for its 10th straight victory, a 74-57 decision. The Wildcats win streak of 10 is K-State’s longest since the 2008-09 team won 14 consecutive games to begin the season.
K-State improved its record to 16-1 for the first time under the direction of head coach Jeff Mittie. This is the best start for K-State since opening the 2008-09 season with a 16-1 mark. In its history, K-State has opened a season 16-1 four times.
K-State upped its Big 12 record to 4-0, the first time since the 2011-12 season the Wildcats have opened Big 12 action with a 4-0 record.
The Wildcats had a season-high five players reach double figures on Wednesday and were led by senior center Ayoka Lee with a game-high 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and added six rebounds, five blocks, two steals and an assist. The Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List member closed to within four points of becoming the fourth player in program history with 2,000 or more blocked shots. She approached the K-State career blocked shots record, needing just three blocks after Wednesday night’s effort to pass current record holder Breanna Lewis (282; 2014-17).
Junior guard Serena Sundell notched 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, seven assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Senior Gabby Gregory tallied 13 points including 3-of-5 from long range and added a career-high four blocked shots and three assists.
Junior Jaelyn Glenn tallied 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting and seven rebounds.
Redshirt freshman Zyanna Walker came of the bench to register 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, four rebounds and two assists.
HOW IT HAPPENED
– K-State (16-1, 4-0 Big 12) used a 13-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter to build a 22-15 lead with 8:05 in the second quarter. Lee opened the run with a layup with 1:15 to play in the first quarter. Jaelyn Glenn added a driving layup with 27 seconds before Zyanna Walker grabbed a steal and raced to the other end and finished with a runner before the first quarter buzzer to tie the game at 15.
– The Wildcats went in front, as Gabby Gregory connected on her second 3-pointer of the night to begin the second quarter. Walker added a layup, while Serena Sundell hit a jumper with 8:05 to play in the second quarter.
– Oklahoma (9-6, 3-1) closed to within three points, 25-22, with 6:34 remaining before K-State ended the first half with a 12-3 run to hold a 37-25 halftime lead. Gregory hit her third 3-pointer of the half, while Sundell and Jaelyn Glenn added three-pointers of their own to end the half.
– The Wildcats blocked eight shots in the opening half, as Lee tallied five with Gregory adding three. K-State shot 44.1 percent (15-of-34) from the field, bolstered by the 22-point second quarter effort of 47.1 percent (8-of-17).
– Both teams found offense difficult in the third quarter, as Oklahoma scored 11 points (3-of-17) while K-State tallied 10 (5-of-16). The Wildcats would hold a 13-point advantage, 43-30, with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter after a Gisela Sanchez layup. K-State would enter the fourth quarter with a 47-36 advantage.
– In the final frame, K-State built its lead to 16, 58-42, on a Sundell layup with 5:35 to play. A 9-0 run from the Sooners closed the margin to seven, 58-51, with 3:17 remaining, but Lee would score 10 or her 12 fourth quarter points in the final 2:30 of the contest to end the Oklahoma comeback attempt.
– The Wildcats would shoot 52.9 percent (9-of-17) in the fourth quarter and went 8-of-11 from the charity stripe, including 6-of-8 in the final five minutes.
– For the night, K-State shot 43.3 percent (29-of-67) from the field and dished out 21 assists.
– The Wildcats held the Sooners to a 27.1 percent (19-of-70) effort from the field including a 7-of-28 (.250) performance from 3-point range. After Oklahoma shot 50.0 percent (5-of-10) from long range in the first half, K-State held the Sooners to 11.1 percent (2-of-18) in the second half.
– Contributing to Oklahoma’s poor shooting night was K-State’s 12 blocked shots. The 12 blocks matched K-State’s season-high originally set against McNeese State on Dec. 6. The 12 blocks are tied for the third-most in a single-game in program history and set the school record for blocks in a conference game.
– Oklahoma leads the series, 45-31. K-State has won seven of the last 14 meetings. The Wildcats are 18-18 against the Sooners in Manhattan. Head coach Jeff Mittie is 11-20 in his career against Oklahoma.
– The Wildcats are 223-237 (.485) in Big 12 games.
– Mittie owns a career record of 634-363 (.636) and is 180-128 (.584) during his 10-seasons at K-State.
– K-State owns a record of 389-154 (.716) during its 36-seasons in Bramlage Coliseum. Mittie is 119-46 (.721) in home games with the Wildcats.
– K-State’s 11-game home court winning streak is the longest home court winning streak in the Mittie era, which started with the final two home wins of the 2022-23 season. This is K-State’s longest home court winning streak since a 14-game home winning streak spanning the end of the 2007-08 season to the end of the 2008-09 season.
– K-State owns a record of 238-88 (.730) as an AP ranked team. K-State is 17-4 (.810) all-time when ranked 12th in the nation.
– K-State’s starting five consisted of guards: Jaelyn Glenn, Serena Sundell, Brylee Glenn, Gabby Gregory and center Ayoka Lee. This was the 17th time this starting five has been used this season. This was the 104th career start for Lee, the 95th collegiate career start and the 49th start at K-State for Gregory, the 86th career start for Sundell, the 82nd career start for Jaelyn Glenn and the 76th career start for Brylee Glenn.
– The Wildcats held a 37-25 lead at halftime on Wednesday. Under head coach Jeff Mittie, K-State is 144-17 (.894) when leading at halftime, including a 15-0 record this season.
– K-State shot 50.0 percent or better in one quarter on Wednesday. For the season, K-State owns 30 quarters with a field goal percentage of 50.0 percent or better.
– The Wildcats dished out 21 assists on Wednesday. When K-State hands out 20 or more assists over the last 16 seasons, the Wildcats are 90-7 (.928), including a 9-0 record this season. The Wildcats have handed out 20 or more assists in eight of its last 10 games.
– Under head coach Jeff Mittie‘s direction, K-State has blocked 10 or more shots in a game 16 times. Since the 2014-15 season, the Wildcats are 15-1 when blocking 10 or more shots.
– Lee recorded her 95th career game with 10 or more points. Lee has scored in every game of her career (104 games). Lee’s career total stands at 1,996 and ranks fourth in school history.
– Lee improved her career blocked shot total to 280 and remains second in school history for career blocks. This was Lee’s 19th career game with five or more blocks and her 75th career game with two or more blocked shots. Lee needs three blocked shots to pass Breanna Lewis (282; 2013-17) for the school career record.
– Lee hauled in six rebounds on Wednesday. Lee’s career total for rebounds stands at 1,024, second in school history. She needs 64 rebounds to pass Kendra Wecker (2001-05; 1,087) for the school record for career rebounds. This was Lee’s 95th career game with five or more rebounds.
– Gregory registered her 76th career game, her 35th at K-State and her sixth this season with 10 or more points.
– Gregory made three 3-pointers on Wednesday, which is the 63rd time in her career with two or more connections from long range. During her time at K-State, Gregory has made 109 from long range.
– Gregory recorded a career-high four blocked shots on Wednesday. This was her fourth career game with two or more blocked shots.
– Sundell notched her 55th career game with 10 or more points, including her 10th this season. Sundell owns 1,030 career points and passed Kristie Bahner (1,017; 1987-91) for 43rd on the K-State career scoring list.
– Sundell recorded two connections from 3-point range on Wednesday. This was her 20th career game with two or more 3-point field goals made.
– Sundell’s seven assists improved her career total to 447, which is sixth in school history for career.
– Sundell tallied two blocks on Wednesday, her 14th career game with two or more blocks. Sundell improved upon her school record for blocks by a guard with 61.
– Jaelyn Glenn recorded her 35th career game with 10 or more points and her fifth this season.
– Jaelyn Glenn hauled in five or more rebounds for the 35th time in her career and the seventh time this season.
– Zyanna Walker tallied her eighth game this season with 10 or more points. This was Walker’s seventh game with five or more made field goals.
FROM THE HEAD COACH
K-State Head Coach Jeff Mittie
“Well, good hard fought win, this [win] was kind of a grind all night long. It was hard for us to find much consistency, and we just kind of grinded through it. I thought we got a big lift from Zy [Zyanna] Walker off the bench. I thought [Ayoka] Lee, we didn’t give her many opportunities in the first half, [in the] second half we made a concerted effort to get her the ball, and obviously she played real well down the stretch. Gabby [Gregory] got us going a little bit when we were struggling in the first half. You know we had good looks, I thought in the first half. They were doubling Lee, and Lee was doing a good job of kicking out of it. We just couldn’t make any shots and that’s part of it. But a good hard fought win. I thought defensively we were at least active, and maybe rushed their shots a little bit. So yeah, good win.”
On the conversations he had with center Ayoka Lee in the first half on the sideline…
“We didn’t feel like in her post ups that she was forcing them into a decision. We felt like she was a hash too high. So we moved her a hash lower, and we simply wanted them to make a decision. Would they play her half a body, or could she bury them. And they chose to play below her and she buried them there. I just wanted her to be patient, stay poised. We were having trouble moving the ball. We were out of sync most of the night, there just wasn’t a lot of rhythm for us offensively in this game. And for her, it’s hard for her to figure out the timing of her post up so I had to call a few more plays in the second half. And you know, she is a smart player obviously and she’s able to refocus and regroup pretty easily.”
On the offense being out of sync in tonight’s game…
“Yeah, we’ve had stretches in this season where we’ve played really well with [Ayoka] Lee on the bench, or Lee in the game, not scoring. I didn’t like our ball movement, I felt like we were very stagnant. And I just felt like the ball was sticking too much and it honestly didn’t get a whole lot better late. It got a little better late, but we had to go to more plays than I wanted to.”
On being able to beat a conference foe by 17 despite the offensive struggles…
“I think our group continues to find different ways to win games, which I think is always important, particularly with teams that know each other so well, you feel like you just know their personnel. I’m sure they feel like they know us very well. They made a concerted effort to take it out of Lee’s hands. If we knock down shots in the early part of the game then it really gets hard for them, but because we don’t, then I think we got tentative, and then I think the ball stuck. But I think it’s a good trait to have that you can grind your way through a four quarter game. There are gonna be a lot of these during the league where one area of your game isn’t as strong and you’ve got to find a different way to win.”
On the team’s defensive performance in this game…
“I thought in stretches we really rushed their shots, I thought that was the good part. They do such a great job with rushing the floor and they play so many people. If your communication isn’t great, it’s pretty easy to lose a player and we lost some. But I do think they were sped up by us and I thought our defense was pretty solid.”
On what the team has accomplished so far this season…
“I’ll say this about our team. We’ve played a variety of different challenges through our schedule, whether that be a three game tournament in Florida, whether that be, unusually, playing a non conference opponent like Iowa twice, right? That’s an unusual thing, we did it within I think eight days, so that’s unusual. We’ve played good, solid competition, in different leagues. Now we’re in league play, where teams know each other, and coaches know each other. And even though we face the newcomers, we’ve played Houston over the years. I’ve known [Cincinnati’s] Katrina [Merriweather] for a long time in the coaching profession, and Sytia [Messer] certainly, at UCF. So [I’m] proud of our group for having the break, coming back, and kind of grinding our way through some victories here.”
On the adjustment Gabby Gregory has made in her playstyle alongside Ayoka Lee…
“I think every player on our roster knew this year that our points were going to be more spread out. It was more important that we make the right play. And then on any given night, it was going to be somebody’s night. But we just needed to make the right play. We talk all the time about ‘we over me’ and I think everybody’s embracing that. And Yokie [Ayoka Lee] made the comment, this summer, that she didn’t come back for records, she didn’t come back for that. She came back to have a great season with her teammates. I think Gabby is the same way, she came back to play with Lee, she came back to play with the rest of the team, and she wanted to have as good a team season as we could.”
Oklahoma Head Coach Jennie Baranczyk
“Well, I told Ayoka [Lee} after the game it’s nice to have her back in terms of in Big 12 play. The league missed her, we didn’t necessarily miss her much but it’s really good to have her back. I thought for the most part we did some nice things and there were some times that she showed us how good she is. You also have to give credit to the whole team. They’re a very, very good basketball team.”
On the ups and downs of the game…
“I thought they shot the ball well, especially from three in that second quarter. And I think that we did some nice things, we turned them over a little bit in that third quarter. We just have to convert some points but I felt like we did a nice job of playing team defense. I think there were some things I don’t know if we could have done much else. We have to get better. We have to get older. We have to get stronger. We got to get a lot of things but I thought there were some really good things that we did that we could control and we controlled those things.”
On K-State’s defense…
“I think you underestimate their length and when you have Lee in the paint, that’s a challenge, obviously, but even when you don’t, they’re long. I think a lot of people underestimate that. And I felt like they got us on our heels a little bit in terms of just our overall movement. So you try to do some different things but I don’t know if we necessarily did that. And for us, on the road, you got to shoot well to be able to win here against this highly-ranked and experienced team, we weren’t able to do that today.”
FROM THE FLOOR
K-State Senior Center Ayoka Lee
On what is making them so good on defense…
“Gap Goat is number one… I think Coach [Jeff] Mittie definitely has been on us about communication. So I think when our communication is really good, we’re playing good defense. I think our ability to get steals, our guards do a really good job of being in the right spot and then being able to jump like screens depending on our ball screen coverage. I think inside we have a good defense. I don’t think it’s easy for a lot of teams to score inside against us, I mean, Gabby [Gregory] had four blocks today, it’s not easy to score against that. Then just like being active and guarding what we need to guard, guarding the three especially.”
On the physicality in the paint and her mindset…
“I mean, I’m not in a great mood but, I think it just goes back to as long as we are being productive. Like as long as you know, Gabby’s still hitting your shots and Serena [Sundell] is still getting drives to the basket. Jaelyn [Glenn] had a lot of really good drives tonight too, early in the game, so I’ll take it if my teammates are open. I think that it just comes down to other teams having to pick what they die by. It’s frustrating, but you just have to be patient and, they can’t do it for 40 minutes if you know everyone’s doing their job.”
On Oklahoma’s emphasis to stop her…
“Yeah, I think that was an emphasis for them. And I think we had a feeling that it was going to be coming into the game. I think they did a good job of that in the first half.”
K-State Senior Guard Gabby Gregory
On if she gets pumped to play Oklahoma and her fast start…
“I guess you could say that. I was open and I was feeling good and shots went in.”
On if her play style has changed since Ayoka Lee’s return…
“Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, in my career, I’ve never played with a true post-player like Ayoka, so obviously it was an adjustment. I’m just working with her in tandem and passing it to her. I think that I’ve been able to develop a lot from the beginning of the season to now, just like how I can work with her and play together with her to get her the ball in situations when she needs it. But I think it’s still even a work in progress now just because I’ve never played with a player like her before.”
On if playing with Ayoka Lee has made the game more fun even if she isn’t scoring as much…
“Yeah, it’s nice. I mean, I had a nine-assist game, I’ve never done that my whole life. So that’s pretty cool, it’s still fun.”
K-State Junior Guard Serena Sundell
On how they were able to stop Oklahoma’s fast offense…
“I think we played well. I think our preparation set us up to be successful. They are one of, if not, the best transition offensive team in our conference. We knew that going in and we were focused on that. And it showed, so that’s a big reason why we were successful.”
On how Gabby Gregory has changed her game …
“I think her passing has really improved this year, and last year we needed her to be a scorer and we needed her to find her shots and maybe take some contested shots which she’s good at. But this year, I think she’s finding her shot and she’s shooting it confidently and she knows when Ayoka [Lee] is going to be wide open. So she’s playing smart and playing confident even when she’s not hitting her shots. She’s still consistent and she’s I mean her mental side of the game is strong and we all trust in her so it’s been fun to play with her this year.”
On how much pride they take on defense…
“A lot. It’s been a staple of our success this year. And it’s something that can always be consistent when we’re not playing well offensively, which I think we felt a little bit tonight, where we weren’t hitting shots. We know that we can control the defensive side of the floor. At halftime, we knew we had given up too many three-pointers. That’s something we have been prideful in this year is holding teams to low three-point percentages. So that was a focus coming out of halftime and we did a great job there. So I think our focus is when we’re all playing on the same page and communicating like you said, reading things early, we’re playing really well. But that starts in practice and coach is picky in practice and we get annoyed, ‘we’re like oh my goodness, you’re so picky, like we’re doing it good enough.’ He’s like ‘It’s not good enough,’ so I think our standard is really high.”
K-State ends a two-game home stand on Saturday, as the Wildcats host (10/10) Texas at 1 p.m. Saturday’s game is Junior Wildcats Day and Team Hally Game. For tickets, call (800) 221-CATS or visit kstatesports.com/tickets.
Saturday’s game can be seen on ESPNU and can be heard on the K-State Sports Network including the flagship stations Sunny 102.5 FM and 1350 KMAN, online at kstatesports.com, or on the K-State Sports app. Saturday’s game will also be available on SiriusXM channels 139 or 202 and the SiriusXM app.