On Monday night, one of the best senior classes in the history of Kansas State men’s basketball — guard Barry Brown, guard Kamau Stokes and forward Dean Wade — has an opportunity to do something that hasn’t happened for K-State since 2006.
This is something that Brown, Stokes and Wade put on their bucket list when they arrived as freshmen: beat the Kansas Jayhawks on their home turf in Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s something every Division I college basketball player would love to accomplish, and it has only been done 11 times total in Bill Self’s 15 years as KU’s head coach.
The Wildcats have been close to winning in Allen Fieldhouse the past two seasons. Two years ago, in the final minute, Wade had an open three-pointer that didn’t go down, and then they watched KU’s Svi Mykhailuk travel as he scored the game-winning layup as time expired.
Last season, Brown had a chance to win the game for the Wildcats on the last possession, but he was slow to take the ball up the court and then put up a contested jumper that bounced off the front of the rim and left him sitting on the court with his arms over his head.
Brown said he has moved on from that final possession at the post-game press conference after Saturday’s victory over Oklahoma State.
“I haven’t thought about that shot in a while,” Brown said.
Brown went on to say he is going to execute correctly if the ball is in his hands again for a game-winner.
“I just want to make the right read,” Brown said. “I didn’t make the right read [last year], so whatever the right read is, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The Wildcats know that Allen Fieldhouse is a tough place to play, but Wade said this team isn’t frightened and will be ready to play.
“It’s a great venue to play in,” Wade said. “But the court is the same length. The basketball court is the same height. At the end of the day, it’s still just basketball. We’re not too worried about the fans. The players give the fans the energy, so as long as we come out and do what we need to do, play defense and stuff like that, we will be all right.”
Not only will it be big to defeat their in-state rivals on their home court, this is a chance for the Wildcats to take their rival out of the Big 12 Conference championship race, and put an end to KU’s run of 14-straight Big 12 titles and keep themselves in the driver’s seat to win the Big 12 — which is another bucket list item for this senior class.
“This is a huge game for us; we have been playing great on the road,” Wade said. “We just need to stay locked in. Follow the scheme the coaches will give us, and don’t do anything we haven’t done before. We need to go out there and play the way we have been playing — play K-State basketball and we will see how it goes.”
The second game of this season’s Sunflower Showdown tips off at 8 p.m. Monday on ESPN.