MANHATTAN, Kan. – It was a fitting Senior Day, as the trio of Barry Brown, Jr., Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade all scored in double figures to help No. 18/17 Kansas State clinch a share of the Big 12 regular season title with a 68-53 win over Oklahoma before a sold-out crowd at Bramlage Coliseum.
With the win, K-State (24-7, 14-4 Big 12) finished in a first-place tie with No. 8/8 Texas Tech (26-5, 14-4 Big 12), which defeated Iowa State, 80-73, earlier in the day, to earn the program 21st conference championship, including the 19th in the regular season, and the first since also sharing the title in 2012-13. By virtue of the tiebreaker, the Wildcats will be the No. 1 seed at next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the Sprint Center.
The seniors combined to score 45 of the 68 points to go with 14 of the 15 assists in their final game at Bramlage Coliseum, as Stokes scored a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, to go with a game-high 6 assists in 34 minutes. He has now scored in double figures in 5 consecutive games. He was joined in double figures by Brown, who posted 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with 4 assists and 3 steals, and Wade, who added 11 points on 5-of-14 field goals to go with 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
K-State is now 20-6 all-time when the trio scores in double figures in the same game in their respective careers, including 8-0 this season.
In addition, the seniors each enjoyed milestones on the evening, starting with Brown, who became the school leader in games played with his 136th career appearance to break his tie with Jacob Pullen (2007-11) and Rodney McGruder (2009-13). With his 4 triples on the day, Stokes became just the fourth Wildcat to eclipse 200 career 3-point field goals, while Wade became just the 10th player in school history with top 1,500 career points.
K-State led for more than 33 minutes of Saturday’s game with the lead changing just four times, all in the first 6 minutes of play. Tied 14-all with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, the Wildcats took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Wade en route to finishing the half on an 18-8 run and leading 32-22.
K-State opened the second half on an 8-1 run to push the lead to 42-23 at the 16:59 mark on the strength of back-to-back 3-pointers from Stokes. The Sooners were able to close the gap to 45-31 at the 13:41 mark, but the Wildcats responded with a 17-2 run over the next 6 minutes to build a 62-33 lead with just 7:12 to play.
Oklahoma erupted for 12 straight points to close to within 62-45 with 4:29 remaining, but sophomore Mike McGuirl answered with a 3-pointer off a Brown assist to push the lead back to 20 points.
K-State connected on 44.8 percent (26-of-58) from the field, including 31 percent (9-of-29) from 3-point range, while Oklahoma was held to a season-tying low of 53 points on 41.5 percent shooting (22-of-53), including 29.4 percent (5-of-17) from long range.
The Sooners were led junior Kristian Doolittle, who scored a team-high 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 36 minutes, while freshman Jamal Bieniemy had 12 points on 5-of-11 field goals, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc, to go along with 4 assists and 2 rebounds.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The two teams went back and forth in the early going, including numerous lead changes and ties.
K-State got on the board first but a layup from senior Christian James and a dunk from fellow senior Kristian Doolittle put Oklahoma up early, 4-2, at the 18:36 mark. A jumper from senior Dean Wade and a fast break layup from junior Xavier Sneed put K-State back in front moments later.
Senior Barry Brown, Jr., tied the game at 9-all after going 1-of-2 from the line after the 16-minute media timeout and fellow senior Kamau Stokes followed with a 3-pointer to break the tie. Oklahoma tied it right back up, 12-12, after a Doolittle jumper and a James free throw after the 12-minute media.
After both teams traded the lead four times in the first 10 minutes before three-pointers from Wade and Stokes on back-to-back possession put the Wildcats up 20-14 at the 8:11 mark.
The highlight-reel play of the first half came on a reverse dunk from Wade on a line-drive pass through the lane from Stokes, putting K-State up 24-18. The Wildcats scored five straight after a Rashard Odomes layup to hold their largest lead of the first half. Junior Austin Trice made a layup but was unable to convert the free throw on a three-point play opportunity. Brown connected on a jumper after Stokes saved the ball from going out of bounds seconds earlier. Stokes made 1-of-2 from the line for the 29-20 lead.
A three-pointer from Brown with 1:54 to play were the last points scored in the first half, which gave K-State a 32-22 lead going into the break.
The Wildcats came out of the locker room strong, starting the second half on a 10-1 run in the first 3:12. A Makol Mawien layup was followed by a jumper from Stokes to put them in front by 14 points. The senior then made it eight consecutive points after back-to-back three-pointers to give K-State its largest lead of the game at 42-23. After a dunk from Doolittle, a few missed shots from the Wildcats and a corner three from Odomes enabled the Sooners to cut into the 19-point deficit to trail 42-28 with 14:33 to play.
Coming back from the break, Sneed hit 1-of-2 from the line and Wade followed with a lay-in on the next possession. Stokes answered an Oklahoma three with a driving layup, upping his game-high in points to 17. Sophomore Mike McGuirl hit a three for his first points to match the 19-point lead.
A pair of Brady Manek free throws ended the 8-3 K-State spurt until the Wildcats jumped up to a game-high 25-point lead with an 8-0 run. Sneed was responsible for 4 of those points, connecting on two from the strike and a one-handed slam with 8:35 to go, resulting in Oklahoma’s second-to-last timeout.
The run went to 12-0 after a jumper from Brown and a fast break layup from Stokes. Oklahoma ended the overall 17-2 K-State run with back-to-back threes from Jamal Bieniemy. The Sooners went on to score 12 straight cut K-State’s lead to 17 (62-45). Miles Reynolds, Bienemy and Manek all converted points in the paint to nearly cut their deficit in half.
Another McGuirl three ended the run with 4:03 to play. Manek received a Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game a few seconds later after an elbow to the throat of Trice.
Brown, Stokes and Wade all exited the game with 1:05 to play with the Cats up 68-51. The Sooners ended the game on an 8-3 run with baskets from four different players in the last 3:16.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kamau Stokes – Senior Kamau Stokes scored a game-high 19 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-10 from 3-point range, to go with a game-high 6 assists in 34 minutes. With his 4 3-point makes, he became just the fourth Wildcat to eclipse 200 or more career 3-point field goals. He has scored in double figures in 5 consecutive games.
STAT OF THE GAME
45 – Seniors Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown and Dean Wade combined for 45 of K-State’s 68 points. The trio all scored in double figures in the same game for the 26th time in their careers, including the eighth time this season.