MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior guard Barry Brown, Jr., scored a game-high 25 points, including 15 in the second half, while fellow senior Dean Wade collected his sixth career double-double with a career-best 16 rebounds, as No. 12/11 Kansas State survived a test from a pesky Denver squad, 64-56, on Monday night in front of 9,412 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State (2-0) once again had to rely on his defense in the victory, as the Wildcats struggled offensively, connecting on 38.3 percent (23-of-60) of their field goals, including just 22.2 percent (6-of-27) from 3-point range, and hitting on just 12 of 27 free throw attempts (44.4 percent).
The Wildcats held the Pioneers (1-1) to 36.5 percent (19-of-52) shooting, including 24.1 percent (7-of-29) from long range, while scoring 23 points off 17 turnovers. It marked the second consecutive game that the squad has scored 20 or more points off opponent mistakes. The team has now held 71 opponents to 60 points or less under head coach Bruce Weber, including back-to-back games.
The 25-point performance marked the 16th career 20-point game for Brown, who gave K-State the lead for good with a personal 8-0 run midway through the second half. He was joined in double figures by Wade (12) and junior Xavier Sneed, who chipped in 12 points in his debut after missing the opener with an injury.
Wade, who struggled offensively during the game, determined to make his impact by rebounding the basketball. His career-best 16 boards were the most by a Wildcat since Jordan Henriquez grabbed 17 against Syracuse in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
K-State, which has opened the year at 2-0 for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, extended its non-conference winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum to 25 consecutive games dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season.
Denver was led by the senior trio of Joe Rosga, Ade Murkey and Ronnie Harrell, Jr., as they combined for 46 of the Pioneers’ 56 points. Rosga paced the squad with 18 points, while Harrell and Murkey each added 14. Harrell, who played against the Wildcats in the 2018 NCAA Tournament while at Creighton, also had 12 rebounds.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The teams went back and forth in the early going before a 7-0 run gave K-State an early 18-12 lead and forced Denver to call its first timeout at the 7:59 mark before halftime. The Wildcats maintained the lead before a 7-4 spurt capped by a 3-pointer by Brown pushed it to 25-16 with 5:28 remaining.
A jumper by Wade and a free throw by junior Austin Trice gave K-State its largest lead at 31-21 with 1:58 remaining. However, the Pioneers used a 7-0 run to end the half, including four from Harrell to make it 31-28 at the break.
Brown paced the Wildcats with 10 points on 3-of-6 field goals at the break, while Sneed added 9 points on 4-of-9 shooting. Wade collected near double-digit rebounds with 9 to go with 4 points. Rosga (12) and Harrell (10) combined for 22 of the Pioneers’ 28 first-half points.
K-State connected on just 35.5 percent (11-of-31) in the first half, including 15.4 percent (2-of-13) from 3-point range, while Denver hit on 37.9 percent (11-of-29), including 25 percent (4-of-16) from long range.
The Pioneers opened the second half with an 8-2 spurt to take a 36-33 lead capped by a 3-pointer from senior Ade Murkey at the 17:05 mark. Dating back to the last two minutes of the first half and nearly the first three minutes of the second half, the squad outscored the Wildcats, 15-2.
With the score knotted at 38-all, Brown ignited an 8-0 run all by himself, bookended by 3-pointers, to give K-State a 46-38 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.
The Wildcats held the lead over the next few minutes but could never really pull away, as the Pioneers closed to within 56-53 on a pair of Murkey free throws with 3:32 remaining. However, Brown responded with a jumper with 2:46 to play to increase the lead to 58-53 and Wade tipped in a miss by sophomore Cartier Diarra for a 60-54 edge with just over two minutes to play.
Again, Denver closed to 60-56 on two more free throws by Murkey, but K-State was able to close it out with four straight points to end the game, including a dunk by Sneed with 15 seconds after steal by senior Kamau Stokes.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Barry Brown, Jr., scored a game-high 25 points on 9-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, in 37 minutes of action. It was his 16th career 20-point game and the 30th career game leading the team in scoring.
Senior Dean Wade collected his sixth career double-double, including his first of season, with 12 points, a career-best 16 rebounds and a game-high 4 assists in 32 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
16 – Senior Dean Wade collected a career-high 16 rebounds, including 12 on the defensive end, to go with 12 points and a team-high 4 assists in 32 minutes. It was the most rebounds by a Wildcat since Jordan Henriquez grabbed 17 against Syracuse in the 2012 NCAA Tournament (March 17, 2012).