MANHATTAN — This one seemed destined to be close, but Barry Brown had other ideas.
Entering Wednesday night’s matchup, the previous five games between Kansas State and Texas had been decided by a total of 13 points. That included a three-point Wildcat win just 14 days earlier.
So few were surprised to see the Longhorns and Wildcats locked in cliffhanger, tied inside the final five minutes.
But from the time Brown converted an and-one play at the 4:16 mark, he was in complete control. Brown’s driving shot and ensuing free throw fueled an impressive 16-4 closing run that sent K-State to a 58-48 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 20-8 overall, 9-6 in the Big 12 and took another big step toward securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
They have Brown to thank. After the junior guard banked home his key basket to give K-State a 47-44 cushion, he flexed both biceps while sitting underneath the goal. It was a fitting gesture as he was simply too strong for Texas down the stretch.
Xavier Sneed followed with a pair of free throws at the 3:08 mark and Brown added four more points to cap an 11-0 spurt that put K-State up 53-44.
After Texas’ Eric Davis halted K-State’s run, Brown again responded. He hit another layup at the 1:22 mark, and his 3-pointer from the key with 22.3 seconds remaining put an exclamation point on the win.
Brown scored 14 of his game-high 16 points during the decisive stretch. Dean Wade added 13 points and Cartier Diarra 12 for the Wildcats.
Matt Coleman scored 14 points to pace Texas (16-12, 6-9). Mo Bamba, the Longhorns’ disruptive 7-foot freshman, managed only nine points against K-State’s tormenting defense, which held the Longhorns to 28.6 percent shooting.
K-State went into halftime tied for the fourth time in five games, thanks in part to a late foul called against Barry Brown that drew a chorus of boos from the Bramlage crowd. Brown was ruled to have fouled Texas’ Kerwin Roach on a last-second 3-point attempt despite getting plenty of ball on the play.
Roach made two of his three foul shots to draw the Longhorns even at 25-25.
Given the Wildcats’ struggles from the field, they were somewhat fortunate to be tied at the break. K-State hit only 8 of 28 overall attempts and 2 of 8 3-pointers in the first half.
The Wildcats stayed close, though, with a strong defensive effort that forced seven turnovers and limited Texas to 10-of-24 shooting.
K-State trailed 16-13 after missing 15 of its first 19 shots, but when Cartier Diarra hit two free throws at the 7:33 mark, it kick-started an 11-5 run that gave the Wildcats a 24-21 advantage at the final media timeout. The run featured five straight points in a 30-second span against Texas’ 2-3 zone, a layup from Levi Stockard followed by a 3-pointer from the wing from Xavier Sneed.
K-State maintained a small cushion until Roach’s late free throws.