MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Ineffective on the offensive end in its first three conference games, Kansas State finally found its rhythm scoring the ball Tuesday night.
Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown combined to hit seven of Kansas State’s season-high 10 3-pointers, and the Wildcats notched their first Big 12 victory with an 83-70 win over Texas Tech.
”Obviously, when you make shots it helps. It changes the whole dynamic of the game,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. ”We were able to make some 3-pointers in the first half, and then a couple in the second half. That hasn’t been our forte by any means, but what we’ve talked about has been getting into the gym and getting shots up.”
Stokes and Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats (11-5, 1-3) with 17 points apiece, part of an offensive outburst that also yielded 15 points from Brown. Five Wildcats finished in double figures.
Brown capped off a critical 11-0 run that spanned 1:48 with an emphatic reverse dunk to give Kansas State a 70-54 lead with 7:30 to play. The spurt helped the Wildcats fend off a comeback attempt by Texas Tech, who nearly erased a 16-point halftime deficit midway through the final period.
”We never really could recover from that barrage of 3-point shots,” Red Raiders coach Tubby Smith said. ”We gave ourselves a chance late, but we couldn’t get back in it.”
The offensive firepower displayed on Tuesday was lacking in Kansas State’s first three conference games. The Wildcats’ cold shooting included a dismal 14 of 64 from 3-point range. But in the first half alone Tuesday, the Wildcats buried eight 3-pointers, including four from Stokes and three from Brown.
The hot shooting helped open up a double-digit lead early. Stokes added to it with back-to-back 3-pointers with 5:05 to play, giving Kansas State its biggest lead of the opening period at 17 points. He later sank a fade-away attempt well beyond the 3-point line to give the Wildcats a 47-31 halftime advantage.
That lead began to slip away thanks to adjustments made by Texas Tech at the break. The Red Raiders rattled off 13 points in the first five minutes of the second half, and Keenan Evans later connected on a deep 3-pointer, and the visitors trailed 59-54 with 9:42 remaining. However, that left more than enough time for Brown and the Wildcats to wake up and cruise to the win.
Justin Gray led all scorers with 23 points to go along with eight rebounds for Texas Tech (11-4, 1-3).
”I think if we keep coming in the gym and executing and sharing the basketball,” Weber said, ”I don’t know if we’ll get 80 (points), but if we keep doing those things and get stops, we can be a good-scoring team.”
RISING SIXTH MAN
Brown is averaging 14.6 points in his last six games, including a career-high 20 in a double-overtime loss to No. 19 West Virginia. The freshman finished in double figures just once in nine games from Nov. 23 to Dec. 29. His 17 points per game average last week against Texas and No. 2 Oklahoma earned him Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, the conference announced on Monday.
Texas Tech: Gray has finished in double figures in three-straight games after scoring none against Texas. . The Red Raiders outrebounded Kansas State 36-32, which included 17 offensive rebounds.
Kansas State: The Wildcats avoided falling to 0-4 in conference play for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Texas Tech: Home against Baylor on Saturday.
Kansas State: Home against No. 17 Iowa State on Saturday.