In a tick-for-tack, hard-fought game, Kansas State prevailed to beat Oklahoma State, 86-82.
The Wildcats started off extremely hot to open the game. They were playing aggressive offensively and hitting shots.
Barry Brown got two layups after cutting into the lane. He even hit two threes on the way to a team-high 12 first half points.
The defense was good in the early going as well. They were getting into passing lanes, and forcing the Cowboys to take tough shots.
The fun wouldn’t last forever, though.
Poor defensive rebounding eventually got the best of K-State. With 2:26 left in the first half, Oklahoma State took a 32-31 lead.
Along with giving up an overwhelming number of offensive rebounds, the Wildcats defense was also chipped away at.
In the waning minutes of the first half, the Cowboys found their way into the paint easier. Where they were not before, K-State was letting Cowboys get by them to the bucket.
K-State lost the battle of the boards 23-15 in the opening half. They also gave up nine offensive rebounds. A third of those came from OSU forward Mitchell Solomon.
Free throws were an area that also hindered the Cats in the first half, as they shot just 4-7, 57-percent, from the charity-stripe.
At the break, OSU led 34-33.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 43-38 lead early in the second half.
Barry Brown was easily the top performer from tonight’s game, as he finished with 38 points.
He set a new career-high, his previous being 32 earlier this season against Arizona State.
Brown also scored the most points scored by a Wildcat since Jacob Pullen dropped 38 on Kansas in 2011.
Brown was also a force defensively, nabbing six steals on the night.
Freshman guard Cartier Diarra was asked to make his first career start in place of the injured Kamau Stokes.
Diarra did better than anyone could have expected. He posted 17 points on fifty-percent shooting, and grabbed four rebounds and dished out four assists.
Hopefully, his play is a sign of things to come since Stokes will be out for an “undetermined amount of time” and was seen in a boot and with crutches tonight.
One reason that Oklahoma State kept the game so close was because of their rebounding success. They finished with a 37-28 rebounding edge, including 13-6 on the offensive boards.
The Wildcats also shot themselves in the foot a little bit with their free-throw shooting. It didn’t help that the Cowboys were stellar in that respect, shooting 95.5% on free-throws for the night.
About eight minutes into the first half, K-State was shooting fifty-percent from the stripe. They finished 75-percent from the free-throw line, but were 80-percent in the second half, significantly improved from earlier in the game. They did convert down the stretch to ward off OSU.
Cowboys Brandon Averette and Jeffrey Carroll scored 22 and 20 points, respectively.
Sophomore Xavier Sneed also had a solid game for the Wildcats. He put up 11 points, but hauled in 12 rebounds.
Since the Wildcats struggled on the night, Sneed’s rebounding skills were a huge help, and he got his first career double-double.
In the end, K-State came out on top, 86-82. They now lead the all-time series 79-53, and lead 40-16 when the Oklahoma State is in Manhattan. The win boosted their record to 12-4 with the win tonight, and now sits at .500 in Big 12 play at 2-2.
Next up for Coach Bruce Weber and his team is none other than arch-rival, Kansas. KU is currently 13-3, 3-1 in conference play.
The Wildcats travel to Lawrence on Saturday to face off against the Jayhawks at 11 a.m. on ESPN.