K-State held off a late push from Oklahoma State in a 75-71 win Wednesday night to advance to the second round of the Big 12 Tournament.
“Our guys have battled all year through injuries, close losses and other things,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “I was happy with how our guys played tonight.”
With Oklahoma State leading 4-2, the Wildcats used an early 10-0 run in the first half to put them in control the rest of the half.
That run started with a layup from senior guard Justin Edwards, which was followed by a 3-point basket from freshman forward Dean Wade. The run concluded with a 3-pointer from senior forward Stephen Hurt.
K-State got the lead up to 16 at 28-12 and held a double-digit lead the majority of the first 20 minutes, despite fouls plaguing the Wildcats.
Hurt and junior forward D.J. Johnson played a combined 14 minutes after both players received two fouls early in the half.
This forced Wade and junior forward Austin Budke to play more minutes. Wade led all scorers with 12 points in the first half, while junior guard Wesley Iwundu provided 10.
The Wildcats forced the Cowboys to commit 11 turnovers, off which they scored 13 points in the first half.
“We came out with great passion in the first half and really moved the basketball, which led to open shots,” Weber said. “Our older guys really came through for us tonight.”
The halftime layover didn’t harm Wade, as he opened up the second half scoring a 3-pointer for the Wildcats. The Wildcats let the Cowboys get back within 10 at 49-39 after a 9-3 run by Oklahoma State five minutes into the second half.
K-State got the lead back to 15, but shortly after, the Cowboys made two straight 3-pointers to get back within single digits for the first time since the 10-minute mark in the first half.
With 1:36 minutes to go, the Wildcats led 70-61, but the Cowboys had a comeback attempt in store. Cowboy junior guard Leyton Hammonds hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to six points.
Ensuing the 3-pointer, Iwundu was fouled and missed both free throws, but Edwards came up with the rebound for the Wildcats. He was fouled and made both free throws to extend the lead to 72-64.
Two missed free throws by senior guard Brian Rohleder and a 2-point basket by the Cowboys put the Wildcats ahead by only four points with 22 seconds to play.
Oklahoma State didn’t get any closer than that as the Wildcats prevailed 75-71.
Wade finished with 20 points and Edwards finished with 17 on the night.
“Dean had a great game for us in a big stage and played well,” Weber said. “Justin struggled early but really had some huge shots for us.”
Just a year ago, Wade was playing at the state tournament, but now he is playing at the Sprint Center in the Big 12 Tournament, which he said was a dream come true.
“It was very exciting to play well at (the Sprint Center),” Wade said. “We are going to get back to the hotel and get some rest and be ready for tomorrow.
The Wildcats advance to the next round as they take on No. 1-seeded Kansas at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We just have to get out and play, and it should be fun for our guys,” Weber said. “No one expects us to win, so there is no pressure on us at all.”