SE: Three Point Shot Helps Cats Send Three Seniors out in Style
K-State men’s basketball (16-14, 5-12 Big 12) used a stellar first-half shooting performance to pull away from TCU (11-19, 2-15 Big 12) last night and never looked back. After honoring its three seniors – Justin Edwards, Stephen Hurt and Brian Rohleder – before their final game in Bramlage Coliseum, the Cats sent their seniors out on a high note by nailing a season-high tying 10 3-pointers in a 79-54 win over the Horned Frogs.
“It’s a great night for all the seniors, all those guys will be missed,” said K-State head coach Bruce Weber after the game. “We had a nice night. We said it was a big game and they prepared like it was a big game. We talked about having great energy, and we came out with great energy. They played at a high level and made shots.”
Junior forward Wesley Iwundu and freshman guard Barry Brown led the Cats in scoring during the first half with nine points each, helping K-State shoot 76.2 percent from the field (16-of-21) in the first 20 minutes of action. The Wildcats’ brilliant first-half shooting performance marked the seventh-best half in school history and the best percentage since the Cats shot 82.4 percent in the first half of a 71-64 win over Texas A&M on Dec. 20, 2014.
“With all the close games we’ve had, the heartbreaking games, it was good for them to enjoy it, for all of us to enjoy it,” continued Weber. “They played well. We played the game the right way, and hopefully we can finish (the season) on a good note. I keep telling them if we keep believing and doing the right things, we’ll finish on a positive note. I still believe that and hopefully this will springboard into more positive things.”
And it wasn’t just Weber who was impressed by his team’s play last night. Following the game, TCU head coach Trent Johnson had nothing but praise for the Wildcats – especially its youth.
“Barry Brown and Dean Wade are good players,” said Johnson at his postgame press conference. “They are not playing like freshmen. I saw K-State play against (North) Carolina and I knew they were going to be good this year. When you look at the amount of close games they’ve been in and lost, they could easily have five or six more wins. The future is bright for them. I like their young kids and Wesley (Iwundu), to me, has always been a really good player.”
In the end, it was Brown who went on to lead the team in scoring with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the three. Brown was joined in double-digits by Justin Edwards (12 points) Wesley Iwundu (11) and Dean Wade (10).
As for the seniors, it was an emotional night playing on their home court one final time.
Along with his 12 points, Edwards grabbed four rebounds, dished our five assists and snagged one steal.
“We have been working hard, getting in the gym to get extra shots,” said Edwards. “We had our best practice this past week, so I feel like everyone’s confidence has increased. I feel like the players today played for us seniors and it just all fell into place.”
Rohleder recorded a career-high four points in his eight minutes on the court. His senior night performance was highlighted by a buzzer-beating jumper to close the first half. The shot had Bramlage Coliseum on its feet cheering as the team ran into the tunnel at halftime.
“The whole night has been special for me,” said Rohleder. “(At the end of the first half) I wasn’t thinking anything, really. The clock was running out and I needed to score the ball. It wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Austin (Budke) diving on the floor and kicking the ball to Wes; so if it wasn’t for my teammates, that wouldn’t have happened. But it is pretty cool that it did happen; it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Stephen Hurt scored four points, grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds and blocked a career-high four shots.
“It was great,” Hurt said with a smile after the game. “It was great for us seniors to go out with a win here in Bramlage and leave that memory here. Any win is great, but this one, it’s one of the best ones we’ve had. Now we’re trying to get this thing rolling going into the Big 12 Championship. We have Texas Tech coming up, that’s a big game. It’d be another good win for us.”
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-11, 8-9 Big 12) at 2 p.m., on Saturday in United Supermarkets Arena. The game will be aired on ESPNews and can be heard across the K-State Sports Network.
“Now Saturday becomes the biggest game of the year,” said Weber looking forward to the close of the regular season. “It becomes very important. Texas Tech is coming off of two losses on the road, and I’m sure with it being their senior day they’re going to play at a high level. But I think if we play like this, play focused, I think we can beat anybody and we’ve shown that.”
For photos, stats, postgame notes and more from last night’s Wildcat victory, please click here.