The Kansas State Wildcats men’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thursday night. The game was their third of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Kansas State lost 92-90 for its first loss of the season.
The game was bound to be a high scoring affair from the get-go. During the first three minutes of the game, K-State put home three three-point field goals. They were credited to Barry Brown, Xavier Sneed, and Dean Wade, respectively. The early success from behind the arc for the Cats was matched, as the Sun Devils answered with three of their own.
A negative aspect for K-State was the lack of aggressiveness down low. The Wildcats outscored the Sun Devils 32-28 in the paint, but it just seemed that something was lacking there. There were numerous times when we didn’t even look to get it inside and settled for outside shots. Towards the end of the game thought it did appear the guards were driving more frequently. Forward Dean Wade appeared to not look to score much at all. That was highlighted by a five-point performance, that saw him shoot zero-for-two in the second half.
Sophomore forward Xavier Sneed scored 12 points in the first half to lead all Wildcats in the opening period, but his performance slowed down after the halfway point. Sneed scored only two points in the second half to finish with 14, and he fouled out of the game with 1:15 left.
Sneed’s lackluster second half performance was countered by strong outings from the junior guard duo of Barry Brown Jr. and Kamau Stokes. Brown finished with 27, and Stokes with 23. 18 of Brown’s 27 points came in the second half of the game, while Stokes accounted for 20 of his 23 in the second half.
Three-point shooting was a strong suit for them both, especially for Stokes. He shot seven-for-10 from the field, and all his field goal attempts and makes were from downtown. Stokes also went two-for-two from the free throw line. Stokes made numerous threes at crucial points in the game. After the Cats were up 53-45 early in the second half, Arizona State stormed back to take a 54-53 lead on a three from Kodi Justice. Stokes answered with one of his own to regain the lead. Stokes would later break a 7-0 ASU run with another three at the 8:33 mark.
After nearly five minutes without a bucket, Stokes cashed in his seventh three with 50 seconds left to keep K-State in the game. In the end, his hot hand wasn’t enough. Down 91-90 with seven seconds remaining, Stokes missed a three. He also added five assists to his impressive night.
One notable aspect of the game was the foul and free throw discrepancies between the two teams. In the second half alone, KSU was called for 22 fouls, while ASU was only called for nine. The total foul count added up to 32-18, in favor of the Sun Devils. They went 29-44 from the charity stripe on the night, compared to a mere 7-9 for the Wildcats.
The top scorer for Arizona State was senior guard Kodi Justice. Justice dropped 28 points on K-State. He was impressive in his shooting performance, going nine-for-10 overall from the field, and a perfect four-for-four from three-point range.
K-State’s next game is in the third-place game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. They will take on the George Washington Colonials Friday night. The Colonials fell to Xavier 83-64. The game will air on FS1 and is scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m.