MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State overcame its largest deficit ever when senior guard Barry Brown, Jr., laid in the go-ahead bucket with 29 seconds remaining to cap a 50-point second half by the Wildcats in a 71-69 defeat of West Virginia in front of 9,590 roaring fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday.
K-State (10-4, 1-2 Big 12) trailed by as many as 21 a little more than a minute into the second half before spouting off a 17-0 run to bring the margin to 42-38 with 13:07 left in the game. A 4-point play by junior Xavier Sneed gave the Wildcats their first lead with 2:30 remaining before the Mountaineers regained the advantage, 69-68, on a Lamont West free throw with 1:33 to play. In the final minute of play, Brown put the Wildcats ahead with a gutsy layup at 70-69 with 29 seconds remaining.
West Virginia (8-7, 0-3 Big 12) missed a shot in the paint with 5 seconds left and Sneed came down with the rebound and was sent to the line, where he hit one free throw. The Mountaineers were unable to get a final shot up before the buzzer sounded.
The victory snapped K-State’s 4-game losing streak to West Virginia, while giving the Wildcats their first Big 12 victory of the season. It was just the second victory in the series against the Mountaineers since 2014 and the first since a 79-75 win at home on Jan. 21, 2017.
Brown led K-State behind a season-high 29 points on 9-of-14 from the field, paired with 6 steals to tie a career-high. It was his 18th career 20-point game, including his third this season, and has highest point total since scoring 34 points at Baylor on Jan. 22, 2018. In the process, he became the ninth Wildcat to eclipse 1,500 career points.
Brown was joined in double figures by a career night from sophomore Mike McGuirl, who scored a career-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while senior Kamau Stokes and Sneed added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
K-State scored 25 points off 17 West Virginia turnovers, marking the sixth time scoring 20 or more points off of turnovers this season. In contrast, the Wildcats posted a season-low 6 turnovers.
Junior Lamont West led the way for the Mountaineers with 21 points off the bench on 6-of-13 shooting. The West Virginia bench played an influential role on Wednesday, scoring 44 points, which tied for the fifth-most allowed in a game in K-State history.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats relied on their leading scorer to get things started on Wednesday, as Brown scored the team’s first 3 points, including two steals in the first five minutes of play.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers found an advantage from the 3-point line, where they connected on their first 3 of 6 to go on an 8-0 run to lead the Wildcats, 13-3 with 12:54 left in the first half.
The offensive struggles continued for the Wildcats early on in the game, as they scored on just 1 of their first 11 shots from the field, including a scoring drought that spanned 8:51 of play. The slow start offensively allowed the Mountaineers to obtain a 20-3 lead with 9:04 left in the first half behind a 15-0 run.
Things began looking up for the Wildcats at the 6:47 mark of the first half, when freshman Shaun Neal-Williams placed a lob pass to Sneed, who flushed it down for an alley-oop. The dunk brought the energy up for the Wildcats, as they closed to within 23-9.
K-State closed out the half by scoring on 4 of its last 7 from the field, as West Virginia led at the break, 36-21. The 15-point deficit marked the first time this season the Wildcats have allowed a double-digit scoring margin in the first half in consecutive games.
In the second half, the Wildcats improved on their shooting from beyond the arc, making 2 of their first 3 to start the half. After hitting their first 2-of-3 from long range, Brown led the Wildcats to cut the margin to single digits at 42-38 with 13:07 remaining, behind a 17-0 Wildcat run.
After being held scoreless for 6:11 during the K-State run, West Virginia brought its lead back to 10 by scoring on 6-of-7 from the field since the run, while also adding free throws, to lead 58-48 with 8:26 remaining.
Following the under-8 media timeout, the Wildcats drew back to within three, as McGuirl scored on consecutive 3-pointers to bring the score to 61-58 with 6:08 left. Of McGuirl’s career-high 18 points, 15 came in the second-half.
The Wildcats took over the lead with 2:30 remaining, when Sneed connected on a 3-pointer from the corner while being fouled, later converting on the 4-point lead to give the Wildcats a lead at 68-66.
West Virginia would re-take the lead heading into the final minute before Brown scored a go-ahead layup with 27.5 seconds to give K-State a 70-69 lead.
With the game on the line, Derek Culver couldn’t connect on a shot from the paint with 5 seconds left. Sneed came up with the rebound and was sent to the line, where he scored 1-of-2 to put the game away at 71-69.
K-State shot 47.2 percent (25-of-53) from the field in the game, including a 62.1 percent (18-of-29) mark in the second half. The Wildcats also outscored the Mountaineers 50-33 in the second-half, while only giving up 6 turnovers throughout the game’s entirety.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Barry Brown Jr. – Brown secured a season-high 29 points on 9-of-14 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line, marking his 18th career 20-point game and his third this season. He also tied a career-high with his 6 steals, a feat he had accomplished twice in 2017 (Northern Arizona, Oklahoma State). Brown’s 6 steals also tie for eighth-most in a game in school history and the second-most in a conference game.
STAT OF THE GAME
21 – Kansas State overcame a school-record 21-point deficit on Wednesday night, behind a 50-point second half and a 17-0 scoring run in the second half.