Even when Dean Wade’s potential game-winning 3-pointer rimmed out Tuesday night in Lawrence, the K-State forward’s forgettable ending to the game against Kansas wasn’t over.
When KU received possession with 5.6 seconds remaining and the score tied at 88, Wade had a front-row seat at Svi Mykhailiuk’s game-winning, buzzer-beating layup. Mykhailiuk’s travel went ignored, and the Ukrainian center sent KU to a 11th straight win over K-State at Allen Fieldhouse, 90-88, over Wade’s outstretched arms.
The buzzer sounded, Mykhailiuk was mobbed ,and the party was on for the Jayhawks as has become customary over the last decade.
But KU would not have needed the clutch shot if not for Wade’s 20-point, three-rebound performance.
The sophomore refused to let his K-State team even approach the gaping hole Kansas usually creates for the visiting Wildcats. His mid-range jumper tied the game at 75, and his layup with just over three minutes remaining pulled K-State to 84-82.
It’s a far cry from Wade’s showing a season ago in Lawrence, a five-point outing in a 77-59 K-State loss.
Instead, Wade tied a career high in points Tuesday night and nearly etched his name into K-State lore with that missed 3-pointer.
“Most players make their biggest jump between their freshman and sophomore seasons, and he’s obviously made a jump himself,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He’s a good player.”
If Wade’s 3-point try wasn’t the shot K-State coach Bruce Weber drew up during the timeout prior, it looked pretty close. It was a clean look, as KU forward Landen Lucas was caught trying to defend the shot from the free throw line.
“It was either Wes (Iwundu) to the hoop or Dean shooting it,” Weber said. “We got a great look, and we got the rebound, we just didn’t make the play at the end.”
Iwundu nearly snatched the rebound, but the ball, along with K-State’s chances at a win, slipped away.
“I had my grip on it, and it kind of just slipped out,” Iwundu said. “The call went the other way, and that was it.”
Iwundu liked what he saw when Wade caught the ball with a straightaway look at the hoop, though.
“That was a great shot,” Iwundu said. “We got what we wanted. Dean hits it nine times out of 10.”
Wade logged 34 minutes Tuesday, an uptick because K-State forward D.J. Johnson picked up his second foul early in the first half and his third less than two minutes into the second half. But Wade made up for what K-State lacked at the post position without Johnson, backing down defenders and using footwork in the lane.
When that didn’t work, he was fouled and went to the free throw line, where he made eight of his nine shots.
All in all, it was a solid performance for the sophomore in a near upset of the No. 3 Jayhawks, but he’ll need to maintain performances like Tuesday’s moving forward.
At least, that’s what Weber hopes for as his team prepares to host Oklahoma on Saturday.
“Dean Wade’s taken a nice step,” Weber said. “Now we’ve got to get better.”