LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kansas State coach Bruce Weber felt his team ”let one slip away” Thursday night against Arizona State. His Wildcats made sure it wouldn’t happen again Friday night against George Washington.
Kamau Stokes led a balanced attack with 19 points, and Kansas State staved off a late second-half rally to hold on for a 67-59 victory over the Colonials in a consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational.
The Wildcats (5-1) led by 15 points midway through the second half and appeared to have the game in control before seeing their lead cut to 56-54 with 5:03 remaining after a pick-and-roll layup by George Washington’s Arnaldo Toro.
Kansas State responded by closing the game on an 11-5 run, and using its man-to-man defense and clutch free-throw shooting to earn the win. Weber was pleased with his team’s fight in Las Vegas, and said his players were motivated after the Arizona State setback.
”They came here to win a championship,” Weber said. ”That was our goal. I think it really crushed them last night that we didn’t (get the opportunity).”
Dean Wade, who finished with 17 points, made key plays on both ends of the floor down the stretch and hit all five of his free throws to help Kansas State. With the Wildcats clinging to a 64-59 lead, Wade procured an offensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer and dished it to Barry Brown Jr., who sealed the victory with a pair of free throws with 25.3 seconds.
”We went to Dean and he made the right plays at the right time,” Weber said of his junior forward. ”Barry made a play, and then we got the free throws. It was good to go through that experience on the road.”
As a team, the Wildcats shot 16 of 18 from the line, including 7 of 8 in the second half.
Brown Jr. added 15 points for Kansas State, which led 38-29 at halftime and finished 46.9 percent shooting from the field.
George Washington (2-4) outrebounded Kansas State 37-26 but shot just 38.5 percent in the second half. Colonials coach Maurice Joseph was proud of his team for fighting back, but said his players must ”learn to put together a whole 40 minutes.”
”We’ve got a resilient group,” Joseph said. ”We got young, hungry guys but we just don’t have the experience to hunker down and win some of these close battles.
”We’ll get there. We’re just not quite there yet.”
Toro had 21 points and nine rebounds to pace George Washington. Patrick Steeves had 11 points, and Jair Bolden scored nine for the Colonials.
Kansas State: The Wildcats have an opportunity to boost their record the next couple weeks, as four of their next five games are at home. Kansas State will travel to Vanderbilt and Washington State before opening Big-12 play against Iowa State on Dec. 29.
George Washington: The Colonials will get a much-needed reprieve from Power-5 conference teams when they face Morgan State and Temple next week in back-to-back games. Toro showed George Washington’s scoring balance Friday, when the sophomore became the fifth Colonial player to lead the team in scoring this season, joining Yuta Watanabe, Terry Nolan Jr., Bolden and Steeves.
Kansas State faces Oral Roberts at home on Wednesday.
George Washington will host Morgan State on Wednesday.