NORMAN, Okla. (TNS) Dean Wade raised his right hand and called for the ball.
The junior Kansas State forward had a one-on-one matchup against freshman Oklahoma guard Trae Young in the paint, and he wanted to exploit it. This was an ideal situation for the Wildcats. They had their best scorer on a much smaller defender. It looked like easy points.
But things didn't work out that way.
Instead of working the ball inside for a high-percentage look, K-State guard Barry Brown hoisted a contested three-pointer that clanged off the rim. Wade fought for the offensive rebound, missed a put-back layup in traffic, snared his own miss and then lost a turnover while being smothered by three OU defenders. The Sooners got a transition layup on the other end.
Talk about a missed opportunity.
Wade finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, a solid statistical effort, but it felt like he could have done much more during an 86-77 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday at Noble Center. The blame for that can be shared.
"Some of it was our guys maybe not executing or getting the ball into position to get it to him," K-State coach Bruce Weber said. "We didn't have great possession or great spacing. When we did get it to him they really loaded it up. He still had 15 and 11 and four steals and three assists, but, in his mind, I doubt he thinks he had a good game.
"I don't think he played well. We needed him to play a little better."
It's been a while since anyone has pushed Wade to shoot more than he already does. He has moved well past the passive label that had teammates and coaches screaming at him to shoot when he was open as an underclassman.
A 54.4 percent shooter from the field and a 43.2 percent shooter from three, Wade has the green light to fire at will. And he has mostly done so during a breakout season.
That's what made this outing so strange. There were times he passed up scoring opportunities and sent the ball to less efficient teammates. And there were times his teammates failed to find him in terrific scoring position.
The statistic that best illustrates that dynamic: It took Wade 12 minutes, 18 seconds to take his first shot. He is by far the team's most efficient player, yet he spent more than a quarter of the game not trying to score.
"I had the first assist to Makol (Mawien) to start the game," Wade said. "I'm not sure the next time I touched the ball or really was aggressive. They just told me to be aggressive, you have got to go, and I didn't. It took a toll on us."
Oklahoma deserves some credit for denying Wade. The Sooners played much better defense than they have in weeks, and looked nothing like the team that lost 87-69 at Bramlage Coliseum last month.
They double-teamed him when he got the ball and tried to discourage guards from passing to him inside.
"We just never seemed to have rhythm offensively," Weber said. "We had to call plays for (Wade) to get him the ball. People are loading up on him. You have got to. Second time around, you have scouted him. He is playing as well as anyone in the league. They make adjustments and we have to read it also."
Consider it a lesson learned for K-State.
"They did a lot of switching stuff and when I got it they dug at me and double-teamed me. It was different than I have seen before," Wade said. "I have still just got to be aggressive. When I have been aggressive I have made plays for other people. I just have to be aggressive."
Brown led the Wildcats with 28 points and Xavier Sneed added 12. They made 45.3 percent of their shots and didn't play poorly in many areas. But only seven of their 29 field goals came on assists. A bigger game from Wade could have closed the gap.
The next time Wade finds himself with a favorable matchup, the Wildcats need to do more to let him exploit it.