Bruce Weber, Barry Brown and Kamau Stokes on disappointing loss to Kansas
No Kansas State basketball players have come closer to beating Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse than Barry Brown and Dean Wade over the past 13 years.
Wade missed an open three that could have sunk the Jayhawks here as a sophomore. Then Brown misfired when presented with the same opportunity as a junior. They weren’t far away from winning twice in this building. After those close calls, they seemed determined to take things a step further and defeat their rivals on the road, making an already memorable season even better.
But things didn’t play out that way. Not by a long shot.
Instead of lifting K-State to its first win in Lawrence since the Jim Wooldridge era, the Wildcats’ two best players both barely factored into a 64-49 loss on Monday.
“I am super disappointed, especially in myself,” Brown said. “I just didn’t play the right way all night. Didn’t make some shots, didn’t guard the right way all night. I had a pretty bad game today. I am going to reflect on it and watch some film — a lot of film — and try to move on to the next game.”
Brown, a senior guard, had no choice but to own it. This was a clunker, one of his worst games in a K-State uniform. He finished with four points, making just one field goal on eight attempts.
It was a shocking no-show considering how well he has played recently. He entered this game as a prime contender for Big 12 player of the year honors, but he wasn’t even among K-State’s top five scorers Monday. He played 35 minutes in one of the most important games of the year and looked like a freshman.
He mostly abandoned his mid-range game for driving layups and only made one of six shots within the arc. Then he stepped outside and missed a pair of three-pointers. He also had two turnovers and just one assist.
“I was trying to make a play and it wasn’t the right play,” Brown said. “I should have just penetrated and kicked, made the right plays. I was just going in there and forcing things that aren’t there.”
He had company.
Wade, a senior forward, also turned in one of his worst games of the season. He was hampered by early foul trouble and only scored eight points in 25 minutes of action. He fouled out with 3:37 to go with the Jayhawks firmly in control.
It was an odd night for him. He hasn’t practiced lately with a sore right foot, and has appeared passive in games, but he was aggressive early on. That led to three quick turnovers and two fouls, turning him into a spectator. He went scoreless in the first half and didn’t make his first shot until the 15:37 mark of the second half.
By then, it was too late.
“He hasn’t practiced in three weeks, and it all caught up to him,” K-State coach Bruce Weber said. “Credit to them. They double-teamed him and never let him get in a rhythm. He has told our trainer, ‘I need to practice.’ We are just trying to get through this stretch and hope and pray that we get a couple threes days off and get that thing healthy where maybe we can practice him next week.”
Kamau Stokes did his best to lift the Wildcats with his senior teammates struggling, but his 12 points weren’t enough. No other K-State player finished in double figures. The Wildcats have been much improved on offense lately, but this was a flashback to some of their nonconference losses at Texas A&M and Tulsa when they looked inept with the ball in their hands.
Perhaps it was just an off day.
That’s what the No. 16 Wildcats (21-7, 11-4 Big 12) will hope as they try to hold off Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4) and Kansas (21-7, 10-5) in the Big 12 race by winning their final three games. K-State falls into a first-place tie in the loss column with the Red Raiders. They are both one game up on the Jayhawks in the loss column.
But the Wildcats will have to play better than they did on Monday down the stretch.
Avoiding foul trouble would help. Wade has had some of his best basketball games against the Jayhawks over the years, but the game turned the Jayhawks’ way at the 8:48 mark of the first half when Wade was whistled for a foul trying to stop KU forward Mitch Lightfoot from spinning past him in the paint.
Wade had his right hand on Lightfoot’s back and when Lightfoot made his move the officials called Wade for a foul. Wade and K-State’s bench were livid with the call, arguing that Lightfoot hooked Wade. But the officials saw it differently.
Weber doesn’t like to play anyone with two fouls in the first half, so Wade went to the bench for the remainder of the half.
K-State is a different team without Wade on the floor, and the Wildcats had to get creative without its star senior forward in one of its most important games of the year. Compounding matters, Makol Mawien was already on the bench with two fouls.
KU surged ahead 34-25 before Stokes scored the final points of the half on a pull-up jumper.
The question on everyone’s mind: why didn’t Weber trust Wade enough to play him with two fouls?
In the end, it might not have mattered. Brown was off all game and Wade looked hobbled. They combined for 12 points.
It was an unusually bad night for K-State’s two best players, and they were unable to end a long road losing streak to Kansas because of it.
“That was a good team, but a team that we should have battled a little harder,” Brown said. “It should have been a closer game than what it was. It’s definitely not going to be easy to stomach, especially me with the game I had. It’s going to be a tough one. I’m just going to have to watch the film and move on.”