NORMAN, Okla. — Dean Wade lined up a jumper and knocked it down.
Wade’s bucket came on the opening possession of Wednesday’s game at No. 20 Oklahoma, giving Kansas State an early 2-0 lead. It was all the push the Wildcats needed.
K-State led wire to wire Wednesday, rolling to a 74-61 victory over Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center.
For Wade, beginning Wednesday on a positive note was a confidence boost in his second game back after being sidelined with a foot injury for six contests.
“My teammates were telling me to be aggressive,” said Wade, who scored six of the Wildcats’ first 10 points and went on to finish with 20. “My foot’s been feeling better, and I’m not worried about it as much. It allowed me to be more comfortable and just worry about the game, and not that I’m moving too slow or anything like that.”
When Wade didn’t take center stage, he ceded it to fellow senior leader Barry Brown. He scored a game-high 25 points, marking his third-consecutive outing with 20 or more, the first time in his K-State career he’s accomplished that feat.
Despite his recent scoring tear, Brown said he didn’t notice Oklahoma altering its base defense to try to slow him down.
“Nothing that we didn’t already know,” Brown said. “They did a lot of switching. They did the things that Oklahoma does. It was kind of similar to what we saw last year ... just more intensity when they did it. They were really trying to get after you a bit more, especially in the first half.”
Sticking to their defensive philosophy didn’t help the Sooners lead at any point Wednesday.
“I thought Kansas State pretty much dictated in every phase,” said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger, who served in the same position at K-State from 1986 to 1990 and was a star player for the Wildcats in the early 1970s. “We were kind of pulling teeth from the start to try to match their energy and match their efficiency. I thought they were great.
“We just couldn’t quite get back over the hump. We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do a lot better. We’ve got to guard better. We’ve got to rebound better. We’ve got to, across the board, make some progress.”
It marks the second-straight game K-State (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) knocked off the No. 20 team in the country on the road; Saturday, K-State escaped with a 58-57 victory at Iowa State, needing a go-ahead bucket from Brown with four seconds remaining to walk away with the win.
It wasn’t nearly as dramatic Wednesday.
The Wildcats scored eight points before the Sooners (13-4, 2-3) even got on the board. K-State extended its advantage to as many as 13 (20-7) at the 10:11 mark of the first half.
“I told the guys that we needed to make them call the first timeout, and I think we came out 6-0, 8-0, something like that,” Brown said. “And we did just that with our offense, moving the ball, getting good shots early.”
But Oklahoma fought back to trim the deficit to single digits at the break. Oklahoma senior guard Christian James capped the half in spectacular fashion, nailing a 3-pointer as time expired to draw within six points (30-24) of the Wildcats heading into the locker room.
Once the teams returned for the second half, the Wildcats picked up where they left off in the first. The Sooners never got closer than five points the rest of the way.
James ended with a team-high 20 points for the Sooners. But he wasn’t pleased with his effort, nor his team’s.
“We’ve just got to come out with energy,” James said. “That was the biggest thing tonight was energy from start to finish. They came out more aggressive tonight.”
Rashard Odomes was next in line, scoring 17 points off the bench for the hosts, which lost their first home game in conference play this season after starting 2-0.
“You can’t get your head down,” he said. “The Big 12 is always going to be a battle no matter who you’re playing. It’s a game of runs. So they’re going to have their runs; we’re going to have our runs. So the whole game, you’ve just got to keep fighting.”
In K-State head coach Bruce Weber’s view, Wednesday was as complete a performance as his team had put together all season. Weber said the Wildcats were “pretty good” in a neutral-site win over Vanderbilt last month in Kansas City, Missouri. He felt they were “very good” in its victory over Missouri in the championship contest of the Paradise Jam event in the U.S. Virgin Islands in November.
But neither of those games, he said, compared to Wednesday.
“I thought the whole game we played well on both ends,” Weber said. “We turn them over 16 times, we shoot 50 percent, share the basketball, (record) 15 assists.”
Kruger didn’t mince words: The Wildcats did what they wanted, when they wanted.
“Sometimes you line up and you just get whipped. We did that tonight,” he said. “Kansas State whipped us. They got us down a little bit and kept working, and we just couldn’t overcome that. We’ve got to figure out a way to keep that from happening. But they whipped us tonight, for sure.”