K-State junior guard Wesley Iwundu will sleep well tonight.
Iwundu played 38 minutes, almost all of which were guarding the Oklahoma senior stand-out guard Buddy Hield. Iwundu had a team-high 22 points in the Wildcats upset win over No. 1 ranked Oklahoma on Saturday inside Bramlage Coliseum.
This was the first win for the Wildcats against a No. 1 ranked team in Bramlage since 2011, when K-State took down Kansas 84-68.
“I am just so proud of our guys,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity with a lot of close games and I’ll be honest, we stopped shoot around early today because I thought we were maybe losing it. I didn’t know if they had anything left in the tank.”
Well, they did.
The Wildcats got off to a slow start, not as bad as the one in Norman in January, but they did have four turnovers on their first four possessions. The Sooners led 9-0 before fans could sit down with their popcorn.
“Obviously we weren’t very good to start the game, but we told our guys to take the game to them and they did,” Weber said.
K-State trailed 14-5, but the Wildcats started hitting three’s sparked by freshman forward Dean Wade and went on a 20-10 run to take their first lead of the game 25-24 with eight minutes to play in the first half.
The Wildcats shot 57 percent from the three-point line in the first half.
The Sooners regained the lead at 30-27, but the Wildcats finished the half strong.
K-State scored 11 of the next 13 points and led at halftime 38-32, which was the opposite of the ending of Wednesday night’s first half against Kansas when the Wildcats gave up six points in the final 15 seconds.
Oklahoma came out on a 5-0 run to start the second half, but Iwundu got the Wildcats on the board with an old-fashioned three point play.
The Sooners eventually took the lead at 43-41, but the Wildcats didn’t let that last very long.
K-State took the lead 48-47 after the team exchanged baskets and the Wildcats never lost the lead again.
The Wildcats extended the lead to 58-50 at the under eight minute timeout as the Sooners only scored five points between the 16 and eight minutes marks in the second half.
After Hield made two free throws and Oklahoma senior forward Ryan Spangler made a shot, the Sooners found their way back within four with seven minutes to play.
A foul by Spangler sent senior guard Justin Edwards to the line who made his first free throw and junior forward D.J. Johnson tipped in the second free throw that was missed to give the Wildcats a seven point lead and got the crowd right back in it.
With a 1:34 left on the clock, Oklahoma was back within five, but Wade came in clutch by making a jumper from the free line giving the Wildcats a seven point lead.
After some finishing touches, the Wildcats sent another No. 1 team packing after an 80-69 win.
“There are lots of dividends from this game if we can continue to play well moving forward,” Weber said. “We’ve had a lot of chances against ranked teams, but we finally got this one done and hopefully that will continue.
Iwundu had seven rebounds and only one turnover in the winning effort, something that Weber was happy to see.
“Turnovers have hurt him lately, but he controlled that tonight and really spearheaded our effort,” Weber said. “He was special for us and we needed someone to do that for us. He was big time tonight.”
For the first time this season, Wade started the game sitting on the bench instead of being in the starting line-up.
“Dean was the player tonight that we need him to be all season,” Weber said. “I wanted to set a fire inside of him and I told him to be mad at me and take it out during the game. He played a lot more aggressive tonight.”
This was the first time since his sophomore year of high school his name wasn’t announced at the beginning of the game, he told the media after the game.
“I’m not one to get mad, but I will say I was able to see the pace of the game before I stepped out there and I think that helped me out a lot,” Weber said. “I was a lot more comfortable coming in tonight.”
After most upsets, the home crowd will storm the court and celebrate with the players, but not in this game after the students were told to stay in the crowd as the players rushed the student section following the game instead.
“Before the game I said everyone else is storming why can’t we storm,” Weber said. “They told us not to be on the scores table so we had planned not to do that. I was waiting for them to storm and they didn’t, which was fine, although I think they would’ve like to be a part of that. Maybe we can do that sometime in the future.”
The win puts the Wildcats at 14-9 overall and 3-7 in Big 12 play. This was the first win versus a ranked opponent for the Wildcats this season. The Wildcats will host Baylor this Wednesday night at 7:15 p.m. The Bears defeated the Wildcats in Waco, Texas 79-72 in double overtime.
“I’m glad we don’t play until Wednesday because we’ve got some important games coming up still,” Weber said. “They are a tough team and will probably play zone against us, but another chance at a top 25 win.”
Hield and the Sooners have a chance to win a Big 12 and National Title this year and he will probably win many post-season accolades, but one thing Hield will never accomplish in his career in four tries.
Winning in the Octagon of Doom.