Wildcats have opportunity to right the ship against OSU Wednesday

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Freshman guard Barry Brown navigates around a Texas Tech defender on Jan. 12, 2016 at Bramlage Coliseum. Brown scored a total of 15 points in the game against TTU. (Rodney Dimick | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, on Wednesday to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Wildcats are looking to rebound after the Texas Tech loss Saturday.

The two teams last met in Manhattan back on Jan. 10. Despite being outscored in the paint and losing the rebound battle, the Wildcats come out on top 86-82.

Junior guard Barry Brown had a career night to lead the Wildcats to victory. Brown finished the game with a career-high 38 points. That performance was the best scoring performance by a K-State player since Jacob Pullen dropped 38 points against Kansas in 2011. Brown also swiped away six steals in the win.

Three other Wildcats finished in double figures in the last game against the Cowboys. Redshirt freshman Carter Diarra scored 17 points, sophomore Xavier Sneed had 11 points and junior Dean Wade finished 10 points. Sneed also grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double, the first of his career.

K-State’s victory against Oklahoma State also marked Diarra’s first start of the season, and he played very well, statistically and otherwise. Along with his 17 points, Diarra added four rebounds and four assists. He played with intensity and didn’t bend under pressure as he made a couple of shots in crunch time.

In the narrow loss, Brandon Averette led the way for OSU with 22 points and Jeffrey Carroll added 20.

Both teams have been up and down since they last played.

In their nine games since defeating the Cowboys, the Wildcats are 5-4. During those nine games, they defeated then-No. 4 University of Oklahoma, who now sits at No. 23 in the country, and then-No. 24 TCU, who is currently not ranked.

K-State also went on a four-game win streak in that time frame, but have since lost three of four. All three of those losses have been by double digits, including a 38-point dismantling at the hands of West Virginia University.

In its last nine games, Oklahoma State has posted a 4-5 record. Three of those four victories have been against top-25 opponents, over then-No.4 Oklahoma, then-No. 7 Kansas and then-No. 19 West Virginia.

Of OSU’s last five losses, only two have been by single digits.

While both teams have had big wins and big losses recently, the Cowboys have the momentum. They are coming off an upset win over West Virginia, whereas the Wildcats just suffered a 19-point loss at home to Texas Tech.

Oklahoma State has the fifth-best scoring offense in the Big 12, averaging 77.4 points per game. K-State counters with the league’s second-best scoring defense, as they allow just 67.5 points per game.

The Cowboys have a clear advantage in the rebounding category. They average just over one more rebound per game than their opponent, while the Wildcats average just over three rebounds less than opponents, good for last in the conference.

Both K-State and OSU have a knack for stealing the ball, ranking fourth and fifth in the Big 12 with 7.9 and 7.0 steals per game, respectively.

With those numbers in mind, forcing turnovers, rebounding and improved shooting will be key factors for the Wildcats to come back with a win.

As of Monday at 8 p.m., ESPN’s Basketball Power Index gives Oklahoma State a 59 percent chance to win.

K-State (17-8, 6-6) and Oklahoma State (15-10, 5-7) are set to tip Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Stillwater. The game can be seen on ESPNU or listened to via the K-State Sports Radio Network.

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