MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Barry Brown has been ready to step up when No. 25 Kansas State needs him.
With injuries to Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes, Brown delivered again for the Wildcats on Saturday night.
Brown scored 13 of his 21 points in the second half, propelling Kansas State over Georgia State 71-59.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with pressure,” Brown said. “I just tried to stay confident when Dean and Kam went down and keep our guys going.”
The biggest concern for the Wildcats is the ankle injuries to Wade and Stokes, which came minutes apart in the second half. Both players suffered injuries last year, too, and Wade missed almost the entire NCAA Tournament, making this familiar territory for K-State.
“With Dean, I don’t have a definite answer, but I do know he didn’t break anything and we’ll do an MRI tomorrow and see how severe it is,” coach Bruce Weber said. “Kam stepped on a player’s foot on their bench and he said he could’ve gone back in. It was the same foot he broke last year and he tweaked it and there is some swelling.”
Brown scored the first eight points for the Wildcats and was key during a later 7-0 run. K-State let the Panthers hang around with 19 turnovers leading to 25 points as Georgia State again competed well with a Power Five school after wins over Georgia and Alabama this season.
Jeff Thomas led the Panthers with 13 points, Nelson Phillips had 11 and D’Marcus Simonds had 10.
“(Jeff) kind of got going,” coach Ron Hunter said. “He had been struggling and has been in a slump. He got tired at the end and missed some wide open shots.”
Stokes had 15 points, Xavier Sneed had 14 and Wade ended with 12.
The Wildcats held a nine-point lead numerous times but couldn’t put away Georgia State until late. K-State was up 48-39 before the Panthers went on a 14-2 run with 10 minutes to go.
“I think we played a solid game up to about the last 7-8 minutes,” Panther senior guard Devin Mitchell said. “Those guys just did a really good job of just doing what they do — playing defense and really getting into us.”
After Georgia State took a 53-50 lead, the Wildcats ended the game on a 21-6 run highlighted by 11 points from Brown, including a trio of 3s, and five points by Xavier Sneed.
Georgia State was very active on the defensive end, forcing 19 turnovers that led to 25 points. The Wildcats won the rebounding battle 33-24.
“That looked like an NCAA Tournament game,” Hunter said. “That is what I told our kids. Maybe it is a different outcome if you are playing on a neutral court.”
Kansas State will hope the injuries will not keep Wade and Stokes out for long as they play two games in the next seven days.
Georgia State is looking like it could be an upset threat if it makes the NCAA Tournament.
K-State will play its first weekday game in nearly a month when it hosts Southern Mississippi on Wednesday night.
Georgia State hosts the UNC-Wilmington on Wednesday night.
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