One of the hardest things about Big 12 basketball is that you have to play everyone twice. Beating a team once doesn’t guarantee anything in the rematch, especially when it’s on the road. Everyone makes adjustments and points can be harder to come by.
That’s what made Kansas State’s 82-72 over Oklahoma State on Wednesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena so meaningful.
With recent road wins over Kansas and West Virginia, the Cowboys had been playing quite a bit better than they were when the Wildcats defeated them last month at Bramlage Coliseum.
Oklahoma State made adjustments to prevent Barry Brown from scoring 38 points, as he did in the first meeting, and did all it could to stop Dean Wade from eclipsing 20 points.
It challenged K-State to win another way, and the Wildcats (18-8, 7-6 Big 12) did exactly that to remain all alone in fourth place of the conference standings. The Cowboys (15-11, 5-8) never stood a chance.
K-State overwhelmed them with a balanced scoring attack that saw seven players score and four reach double figures. Brown led the way with 25 points, while Xavier Sneed had 13, Wade had 12 and Kamau Stokes added 11.
It was the opposite of a one-man show. One play exemplified the effort: Early in the second half, Wade found point guard Cartier Diarra for an alley-oop dunk.
Perhaps best of all, K-State got solid contributions from its bench. That has been rare this season. On many nights, the Wildcats have been fortunate to get any scoring from their reserves. But they stepped up to score 24 against the Cowboys.
Stokes had his best game since returning from a broken left foot with 11 points and three assists, Levi Stockard had a career high eight points inside and Amaad Wainright added five points.
The Wildcats also won with stifling defense, limiting the Cowboys to 27 of 65 shots from the field and 6 of 20 from three-point range.
Oklahoma State made 3 of its first 17 shots and never got in a rhythm.
K-State was at its best defensively in the first half, holding Oklahoma State to 20 points. And it only got that many because of offensive rebounds. Thirteen of its points were on second-chance opportunities, meaning the Wildcats held the Cowboys to seven points on first looks (2 of 25 shooting with six turnovers). If not for OSU grabbing 10 offensive rebounds before intermission, K-State’s 37-20 lead would have been much larger.
The Wildcats quickly pulled ahead by 20 in the second half and never looked back. They are now 2-0 while wearing throwback lavender uniforms.
From K-State’s perspective, there was little to complain about from this rematch. It will hope for a similar result in its next game against Iowa State on Saturday.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett