Barry Brown explains how K-State pulled off a ‘big-time’ win at Texas
Kansas State’s 71-64 victory over the Texas Longhorns on Tuesday at the Erwin Center came with an unusual twist.
Anyone who has watched the Wildcats play this season knows they are one of the best defensive teams in the country. Bruce Weber takes pride in that part of the game and his team likes to win by getting stops more than it does by scoring points.
But that identity faded away for at least one night while the Wildcats shot the ball with confidence and tried to win like a poor man’s version of the Golden State Warriors.
That’s not to say K-State didn’t have some moments on the defensive end. After a leaky first half and a switch to some zone looks, the Wildcats tightened up and rattled the previously hot Longhorns. But make no mistake, K-State won this game on offense.
The Wildcats made 54.9 percent of their shots, including eight three-pointers, and downed the Longhorns in one of their most entertaining games of the season.
With the victory, K-State (19-5, 9-2 Big 12) extended its conference winning streak to nine and maintained its spot atop the league standings. It is now 1.5 games ahead of Kansas and two full games up on Baylor, Iowa State and Texas Tech.
Texas (14-11, 6-6) had been dynamite at home in recent games, but didn’t have enough answers for the hot-shooting Wildcats.
Barry Brown and Xavier Sneed led the way with 16 points apiece, while Dean Wade added 12 and Kamau Stokes and Makol Mawien both scored 11.
And they did it all without key reserve Cartier Diarra, who missed the game with an injured hand.
They were at their hottest at the end of the first half and the start of the second half after Texas appeared to be pulling away and scoring at will itself up 39-31. Weber called a timeout to halt the Longhorns’ momentum in the final moments of the first half, and the Wildcats responded with a 15-3 run that shifted the odds in their favor.
Then, when Texas responded with a run of its own, K-State scored nine straight points to pull ahead 54-47.
The Wildcats started the second half by making eight of nine shots and found a way to slow the Longhorns by dialing up a zone defense.
Weber much prefers to use man-to-man defense, so much so that he can only remember going zone in other game this season, but he switched things up in this one because Texas players scored far too easily in the paint in the first half.
That was most evident on a play when Kerwin Roach passed up a driving layup at the rim and swung the ball to Dylan Osetkowski in the corner, who passed up an open three and sent the ball to Courtney Ramey on the wing. After getting beat badly on previous drives, K-State defenders exerted so much effort trying to defend the first two scoring options on the play that Ramey had all night to compose himself and drain a three-pointer.
It was the type of play that drives Weber crazy.
He called a timeout with Texas leading 39-31 in the final moments of the first half.
Then he made some adjustments and the Wildcats dominated from there.
They will try to keep their momentum going in an important home game on Saturday against Iowa State.