MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior Kamau Stokes scored a game-high 20 points en route to becoming the 30th Wildcat in school history to score 1,000 career points, as K-State fought off a furious George Mason comeback attempt to win 59-58 at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday.
With the win, K-State (10-2) extended its non-conference winning streak at Bramlage Coliseum to 29 games. The Wildcats are now 7-0 in home venues this season and have won nine consecutive games at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State survived a strong second-half comeback attempt from George Mason (6-7), with the Patriots outscoring the Wildcats 42-23 after halftime, including a 15-4 comeback in the final five minutes of play.
With only 1.2 seconds remaining, GMU was unable to secure the inbound, as K-State was able to deflect the ball and escape with a one-point victory to the delight of 9,973 in attendance.
The comeback attempt came after the Wildcats held the Patriots to the fewest first half points of the season (18).
Stokes reached the 1,000-point plateau in the first half, connecting on a free throw with 30 seconds left in the opening frame to achieve the milestone while helping the Wildcats to as much as a 21-point advantage.
Stokes joins teammates Barry Brown, Jr., and Dean Wade in achieving the milestone, becoming the first senior class to each top 1,000 points in a career. Stokes’ 20 points marked his eight career 20-point game, as he scored in double figures for the 58th career game, including his ninth this season.
Stokes was joined in double figures by junior Xavier Sneed (13) and Brown (12). Sneed nearly totaled a double-double finishing with a game-high 9 rebounds, as he has at least 9 boards in 4 of the last 5 games.
GMU was led by junior Justin Kier’s 15 points on 6-of-14 field goals.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Wildcats jumped out to the lead behind a standout first half and pushed the advantage to 20 by the break.
Sneed started things off for the Wildcats, scoring five of the first eight points, including a 3-pointer that was assisted by sophomore guard Cartier Diarra, as K-State jumped out to a 10-7 lead just five minutes into the game.
After an early basket from junior forward Makol Mawien, the Wildcats called upon sophomore forward Levi Stockard III to provide a boost for K-State, as Stockard added a basket in the paint and an assist to Stokes to push K-State to a 6-0 run over George Mason, and the Wildcats lead 16-7 at the 12:31 mark of the first half. Stockard would go on to score six points on 2-of-2 from the field and grabbed 3 rebounds in the first half.
George Mason then put together a 7-0 run of its own to bring the score to 16-14 with 9:01 left in the half. During the run, the Patriots scored on three consecutive shots, while the Wildcats were held scoreless for 5:43 of play.
Despite the slump, K-State didn’t back down as they went on a 20-2 run to close out the first half, on the strength of 3-point shooting and physical defense. The run spanned the last 6:48 of the first half, with the Wildcats connecting on 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, while holding the Patriots to just 1-of-12 shooting during the span.
K-State’s 36-16 halftime lead marked the largest of the season, as the Wildcats connected on 45.5 percent (5-of-11) from beyond the arc, while holding George Mason to just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from the field. Sneed’s 13 points led all scorers at the break.
In the second half, George Mason chipped away at the lead with its own hot shooting, as the Patriots connected on 55.1 percent (16-of-29) in the half. With just 6:51 remaining, GMU brought the score to single digits for the first time of the half at 49-43 after connecting on 7-of-9 shots from the field.
With GMU threatening, Stokes jabbed back with his 3-point shooting, scoring 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give the Wildcats some distance with a 55-43 lead with 5:27 left in the game, but the Patriots wouldn’t give in.
Over the final three minutes, the Patriots drew to within single digits again. With 2:18 remaining in the game, GMU’s Javon Green converted an and-one to bring the score to 56-51. On the subsequent possession, the Patriots drew closer on a Justin Kier jumper to trail by three at 56-53 with 1:50 left.
On the next K-State possession, Stokes drilled another 3-pointer to give the Wildcats a 59-53 advantage with just under a minute and a half left, but George Mason would rattle off five straight points to bring the score to 59-58 with 44 seconds remaining.
Leading by one with the ball in George Mason’s possession, the Patriots missed on a jump shot from Kier with four seconds left. After securing the ball and moving in transition, Brown was called for a double dribble giving the Patriots one more look and a mid-court inbounds with 1.2 to play.
The Patriots mishandled the inbound pass and the Wildcats escaped with a 59-58 victory.
K-State shot 42.3 percent (22-of-52) from the field in the game, as well as 40.9 percent (9-of-22) from 3-point range. With their second-half run, George Mason shot 41 percent (23-of-56) from the field, including 31.5 percent (6-of-19) from beyond the arc.