There’s a reason Kansas State basketball players constantly urge Dean Wade to be aggressive.
They want him to play the way he did on Saturday against Baylor when he scored 12 points, grabbed six rebounds and helped the Wildcats land a major road upset. And they want him to do it all the time.
“I knew he was going to have a good game,” K-State guard Kamau Stokes said. “We had a long talk in the hotel room and I told him to be aggressive. I don’t care if you shoot every time, we need you to shoot and score, and he went out and did that.”
His play was a major boost for the Wildcats, especially early. Wade, a sophomore forward from St. John, came out firing and scored the bulk of K-State’s points in the first half. He made a pair of three-pointers, got to the basket and played like a true difference-maker.
“It was a confidence thing for me,” Wade said. “I was open a lot, so I shot it a lot.”
It was a welcome change. Wade was stuck in a slump before Saturday, scoring a total of seven points on 2 of 12 shooting in consecutive losses to Iowa State, Tennessee and TCU.
Wade was hampered with a sprained foot during that stretch, and at times found it difficult to stay on the floor. But he has returned to full speed and played 31 minutes against Baylor.
His value was on display.
“We’ve all talked to him,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Dean is a really good player and has a lot of ability. He’s not the most confident kid … he cares too much, he worries too much. I talked to him the other day and said, ‘Worry about what you can do. Rebound and play hard and let the other stuff come.’
“It was great that he made a couple of shots, because we need him. He had the same numbers against West Virginia (13 points, 5 rebounds) and we missed that the other night. Even though Xavier Sneed had a good game (against TCU), we need that from Dean.”
Wade put pressure on himself to contribute against Baylor, placing emphasis on hard play and defense.
Though his offense disappeared during a three-game losing streak, he was most displeased with his lack of defense. He decided if he picked up his play on that end his entire game would improve.
He hopes to continue playing well, and aggressive, when K-State returns to action Monday night against Kansas.
“Coach Weber has been preaching it to me for a while now,” Wade said. “When I’m confident and aggressive, the offense seems to go more smoothly.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
No. 3 Kansas at Kansas State
- When: 8 p.m. Monday
- Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan
- Records: KU 20-3, 8-2 Big 12; KSU 16-7, 5-5
- Radio: 1480-AM, 102.5-FM, 107.9-FM
- TV: ESPN
Kansas (20-3, 8-2): Weber said he was shocked to learn the Jayhawks lost to Iowa State on Saturday, but he expects them to play at a high level against K-State. Kansas sits atop the Big 12 standings, holding a one-game lead over Baylor. Mason has led the way for the Jayhawks this season, but K-State held him to 15 points at Allen Fieldhouse in their first meeting. Josh Jackson led the way in that game, scoring 22 points. Landen Lucas also hurt K-State with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Kansas State (16-7, 5-5): The Wildcats are hoping to turn one victory over a top 10 team into two. They defeated No. 2 Baylor 56-54 on Saturday at Ferrell Center and are now preparing the nation’s third-ranked team two days later. Stokes has been K-State’s most solid scorer in Big 12 play. He has reached double figures in 13 consecutive games. He led the Wildcats with 15 points against Baylor. This is K-State’s first “Big Monday” appearance of the season.
RPIs as of Tuesday: KU 4, K-State 39.