Kansas State University

K-State basketball takeaways: Barry Brown, Dean Wade save Wildcats in opener

K-State guard Barry Brown Jr. (5) drives for the net Friday night against Kennesaw forward Isaac Mbuyamba (5) during K-State’s home opener. (November 9, 2018)
K-State guard Barry Brown Jr. (5) drives for the net Friday night against Kennesaw forward Isaac Mbuyamba (5) during K-State’s home opener. (November 9, 2018) The Wichita Eagle

K-State takeaways: in season opener

The Kansas State Wildcats defeated the Kennesaw State Owls 56-41 on Friday at Bramlage Coliseum.

Here are some thoughts from the season-opening win for the home team:

Barry Brown and Dean Wade carried the Wildcats on opening night

K-State needed its two best players to produce at high levels on a night when one starter, Xavier Sneed, didn’t play and two others, Cartier Diarra and Kamau Stokes, struggled to find the bottom of the net.

And they delivered.

Dean Wade was the picture of efficiency, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds on just 13 shots. Barry Brown had a huge first half that featured two dunks and some acrobatic layups, then added a few more buckets to get to 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.

K-State coach Bruce Weber and K-State fans would have preferred a more well-rounded effort, but Wade and Brown did what they had to do to squash the Owls’ upset hopes. They played like a pair of all-conference seniors should.

K-State missed Xavier Sneed

There’s no way around it, the Wildcats struggled without their usual starting wing on the court.

Weber said the Wildcats held Sneed out for precautionary reasons. He sprained his ankle in practice earlier in the week, and they didn’t want to rush his recovery. If K-State was playing Kansas, Weber said, Sneed would have been out there. Against Kennesaw State, he rested.

K-State replaced him with a small lineup that featured both Diarra and Stokes. That didn’t lead to impressive results. Both guards had poor games. Diarra finished with two points, one rebound and zero assists. Stokes had two points, two rebounds, five assists and four turnovers.

It was surprising to see both players, who contributed so much for the Wildcats last season, struggle to that degree.

Weber didn’t seem concerned. It was just one game. But the results left you wondering if the Wildcats might have been better using Mike McGuirl more than they did. He hit the team’s only three-pointer.

Outside shooting continues to be a problem

The Wildcats weren’t sharp from the outside in their lone exhibition victory, and their shooting struggles continued against the Owls.

K-State made 1 of 13 shots from three-point range. It went 1 for 6 in the first half and 0 for 7 in the second. Good thing it held Kennesaw State to 41 points. Bruce Weber’s team has shot better than this in the past, so this feels more like a slump than a trend.

“We had an off night,” Wade said, “maybe rushed a few and took a couple bad ones. We are going to bounce back. It’s one bad game. We have got a quick turnaround. We can’t dwell on this one. We just have to move on.”

Still, it does make you think.

“I thought we were going to be a good shooting team this year,” Weber said, “but we will have to see.”

Austin Trice has got a motor

Junior-college transfer Austin Trice played with more passion and energy than anyone else on the court on Friday. That was to be expected, considering it was his first official game in a K-State uniform.

He will be a difference-maker if he can continue to play that hard once the adrenaline wears off. Trice finished with six points and 12 rebounds in 14 minutes of action. He crashed the boards from all over, and made people recognize where he was at all times.

“My main focus was rebounding,” Trice said, “and I was able to get 12 in 14 minutes. I am satisfied, but I feel like I could have done more.”

His play was a welcome change for a team that ranked last in the Big 12 in rebounding last season.

“Austin gives us a whole new dimension,” Weber said.

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