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K-State Juniors 'Special' in Big 12 Opener, Look to Ride Momentum into New Year's Day Battle with No. 7 WVU

January 1, 2018
By Corbin McGuire

Bruce Weber often challenges his team with a quote or a few focal words written out on a whiteboard. On Friday night in Ames, Iowa, he penned out four words: Dare to be special.

His team, and specifically his three experienced juniors, took it to heart in K-State's Big 12 opener. The Wildcats topped Iowa State, 91-75, in Hilton Coliseum — their first win on the Cyclones' home floor since 2011 — behind 78 combined points from Dean Wade (34), Kamau Stokes (23) and Barry Brown (21).

"It's just a good win," Weber said. "Obviously the three older guys that are on the cover of the poster, they stepped up."

It marked the first trio of 20-plus point scorers for K-State since Jacob Pullen (28), Denis Clemente (25) and Curtis Kelly (21) did so against Xavier in the 2010 NCAA West Regional Semifinal in Salt Lake City, Utah. It also marked the first time since 1975 that the Wildcats had a 30-point scorer and two 20-point scorers in the same contest, when Chuckie Williams (34), Darryl Winston (23) and Mike Evans (20) did so at Iowa State.

"We're vets on this team and we expect to do what we did (Friday night) every night, to come out and play how we know how to play," said Stokes, as he, Wade and Brown combined for 51 of their team's 53 first half points en route to snapping a four-game losing streak to Iowa State. "This is our first win here since we came in as freshmen. It feels great, especially to get a road win in our first Big 12 game."


Wade highlighted the Wildcats' strong start to Big 12 play, one they look to continue against No. 7 West Virginia at Bramlage Coliseum on Monday at 4 p.m.

"I just think I was really motivated. I had never won here before and it's the very first game of Big 12, so we were all hyped up and ready to go. It was big for us to get this win," Wade said. "We have a little momentum getting our first Big 12 win on the road. Going back home to Bramlage, I think it'll be an exciting game."

The 6-foot-10 junior provided a heavy dose of excitement for K-State against Iowa State. He scored at every level against the Cyclones, converting 13-of-16 from the field and 6-of-8 from beyond the arc en route to a career-high 34 points. His outing was evenly spread out between both halves as well, with 18 points in the first half and 16 in the second. Wade finished with the most points in a road Big 12 game since Clemente scored 44 at Texas in 2009.

"One of the things I wrote on the board was, 'Dare to be special.' I was talking to all of them. If you're going to win road games, you have to have somebody step up and be special. Obviously, he was huge," Weber said of Wade, who also grabbed eight rebounds, recorded two steals and blocked a shot. "But Kam and Barry were pretty special, too. The three guys that have the experience made the plays."

Stokes lit it up in the first half, providing 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting that included nailing all four of his 3-point attempts. At one point, the savvy point guard hit three treys in about a two-minute stretch, part of a 17-point tear in the final 10 minutes of the first half to give his team a three-point lead.

"It feels good," Stokes, who recorded seven assists and three steals, said of the win. "Now we have to get ready for the next one we got on Monday."

Then there was Brown, who did most of his work slashing to the paint and finishing at the rim. He also dished out four assists and grabbed a pair of steals.

"We had never beaten Iowa State, let alone win here," Brown said. "So I think we had that fire in us before the tipoff."

Now, Weber said the challenge would be to bring that same fire and focus to every game. For K-State, that starts with No. 7 West Virginia and its relentless defensive pressure in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU. The Mountaineers (12-1) are coming off a road win vs. Oklahoma State on Friday. They rank second in the nation in turnover margin (9.3) and sixth in steals per game (10.5).

"Any road win is good in this league. I told the guys, 'Dare to be special.' That was our theme this week," Weber said. "The other thing I wrote on the board was, 'Consistency.' We have to come back ready because it's going to be just as tough or tougher on Monday."



We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.


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