SPOKANE, Wash. – Playing their final non-conference game of the regular season, Kansas State improved their record to 10-2 in non-conference play, as the Wildcats controlled the final three-minutes of play to come out with a 68-65 victory over Washington State at Spokane Arena on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Barry Brown helped will the Wildcats back into the lead with under three minutes remaining, as Brown scored 12 of the last 19 K-State points to lead the Wildcats on a 10-0 run to seal the victory. Brown scored a team-high 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting to register his third 20+ point game of the season, while sophomore forward Makol Mawien added a career-high 15 points and 9 rebounds to spur K-State over Washington State.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Kansas State used the first five minutes of the contest to jump out to a 15-6 lead over Washington State, including a 7-0 scoring run behind solid shooting from the big men, while the Wildcat defense held sturdy in the opening minutes.
Throughout the first 10 minutes of play, the Wildcat defense forced 4 turnovers and a blocked shot by Mawien, as the stifling defense held the Cougars to just 31 percent shooting (4-of-13) midway through the first half. Mawien would continue his defensive presence in the first half, blocking 2 shots and recording 4 rebounds.
Along with the strong defense, the story of the first half for K-State was their ability to score close to the basket, registering 16 of their 35 first half points in the paint. Much of the Wildcat scoring in the paint came on a line from junior guard Kamau Stokes who had an impressive day passing, dishing out 6 assists in the first half which matched a season-high for assists in a half which was previously recorded in their last contest against Southeast Missouri State on December 16th. Stokes would also record 6 points in the first half.
Mawien was one Wildcat that benefitted from the stellar passing, as he led the team with 10 points in the first half. The Wildcats also benefitted on the glass, grabbing 25 rebounds in the first half, the most boards the team has recorded in a half all season.
K-State registered their largest lead of the half at the 3:08 mark, where they possessed a 17-point lead over the Cougars, however Washington State was able to cut the lead to 10 before halftime, as the Wildcats led at the break, 35-25.
Coming out of the break, the Cougars cut the deficit to single-digits, as Carter Skaggs was able connect score 8 points in the opening minutes of the second half.
Washington State would take control at the 10-minute mark, after an eight-point run behind a Skagg’s 3-pointer and an and-one from Malachi Flynn. Midway through the second half the Cougars possessed their first lead of the game, 49-47.
After the Cougars gained their first lead of the game, the Wildcats countered with a punch of their own as Stokes lobbed a pass to sophomore forward Xavier Sneed who threw down the alley-oop to tie the game at 49.
The Cougars would extend their lead to 8 with 7:19 remaining, powered by a 16-2 run. Trailing by their largest margin of the game, at 8 points, Brown took over the Wildcat offense by scoring 6-straight points to slim the margin to just 2 points.
With under three minutes remaining and trailing by single-digits, junior forward Dean Wade brought the offensive presence back to the paint where he was able connect on 4 consecutive points in the paint. Trailing by 3, Mawien collected a Wade miss from beyond the arc and was able to lay it in to bring the score to 63-62 with 1:26 remaining.
With their backs against the wall with under 1-minute remaining Wade came up with a steal on defense that led to a Brown dunk on the other end giving the Wildcats the lead back with 51 seconds remaining. K-State’s defense would hold again on the following possessions, allowing Brown to get to the foul line and connect on four-straight free throws to seal the victory at 68-65.
The Wildcats pulled through behind the strength of an 10-0 run in the last 2:31 of play, while holding the Cougars to a scoring drought spanning the last 2:42 and five Cougar possessions of the game. Brown came through in the clutch scoring 12 of the last 19 points for the Wildcats, improving his scoring output to a team-high 23 points in the game. Mawien added 15 points of his own and a team-high 9 rebounds while Stokes finished with 7 assists.
As a whole, the Wildcats shot 42 percent (25-of-60) from the field while holding the Cougars 39 percent on 24-of-62 shooting. K-State found a boost from their scoring in the paint, scoring 38 points in the paint in the game, while out-rebounding Washington State, 43-37.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Barry Brown – With the Wildcats trailing in the trenches, the junior guard took over late in the game, accounting for 12 of the last 19 Wildcat points to up his point total to 23 points in the game. Brown’s 23-point performance marks his third 20+ scoring output of the season, and he added 6 rebounds and an assist to his stat-line.
STAT OF THE GAME
10-0 – In the final 3 minutes of play, the Wildcats marched back from 5-under to spout of a 10-0 run, while holding the Cougars scoreless for 2:42 and five-straight possessions during the span. The 10-0 run by the Wildcats helped slow the Cougar’s momentum and seal the victory for the Wildcats.