The Kansas State men’s basketball team hosted the Georgia Bulldogs at home to partake in the fifth annual Big 12/SEC Challenge. This year, the Wildcats won, 56-51.
In the first half, the game was rather slow and seemed as if it took ages to progress forward. Many people feared that the Wildcats would play “flat,” as soon as they went outside of the Big 12. This was definitely the case for the start of the game.
The first four minutes of the first half for the Wildcats wasn’t too bad. As time progressed, the Wildcats would look tired, the defense would slip at times, and the offense missed easy baskets or overshot by inches.
A major play in the first half for the Wildcats came from Makol Mawien, where he swatted the ball out of Georgia’s hand to keep them from scoring.
While the game remained dry in the first half, the largest lead for K-State was by five points. The lead changed five times in the first half and was tied four times. K-State had a total of 10 points in the paint.
In the first and second half of the game, the Wildcats had two players in particular that jumped out.
Georgia’s Yante Maten was matched up against Wade, where they went head-to-head in both the first and second quarter. A 6’10 Wade was able to contain the 6’8 Maten more than once. As Wade’s defense skills shined through to overpower Maten, it became clear that Wade was going to contain Georgia’s leading scorer.
In the second half, Diarra made his own paths and plays to get K-State back in the game and tie it up. For the first 15 minutes of the game, Georgia kept beating down the Wildcats with a strong hand. However, Diarra stomped that and made way for himself to get the points they needed to win.
Wade was able to pick up where Diarra left off and shoot two baskets from the field, driving them up and to take the lead. Wade brought the Wildcats back into contention where he was able to bring forth the Wildcats to take the lead, 54-51 in the last minute of the second half.
It was another quiet game for Barry Brown, where he finished the game with nine points. He was able to bring the Wildcats up to 56-51, after he was able to get two free throws.
“It was tough. They were a physical team,” Brown said regarding today’s matchup. Brown later explained that it is always a better case scenario to learn from a win rather than a loss.
When it came to guarding Manten, Wade talked about the strength that Manten brought to the team, as he finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds.
“He’s their best player,” Wade said. “He’s huge, he’s strong. He’s got it all, he’s the whole package. It was a fun matchup. He was tough to guard.”
Wade opened up to how he felt regarding Monday’s matchup, talking about previous matchups and what it would mean to both him and the crowd.
“It would mean a lot,” Wade said. “I’ve never beat them. It would also put us tied in the Big 12, so that’s huge. Giving the fans something they’ve been waiting for for years would be huge. Its a big game.”
Head coach Bruce Weber later admitted that he was nervous for the matchup, but later talked about the maturity of the game and mentioned Wade.
“I was just happy we found a way to win the game,” Weber said. “It was pretty, it was smooth, it was a hard fought, grind out game. Dean [Wade] has been incredible.”
Weber talked about Wade’s doubt he had in the first half after missing multiple plays, but then praised him and how much he has grown.
“It was the first time he had a little doubt in his face,” Weber said. “He hasn’t missed a lot this season…You could just see his maturity in today’s game.”
K-State’s win today marks 23 consecutive non-conference wins in Bramlage Coliseum. Going into Kansas on Monday, the Wildcats come with a four game winning streak.
The Sunflower Showdown on Monday is set to tip off at 8 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.