By Corbin McGuire
A few minutes after most of K-State’s student section emptied out of Bramlage Coliseum, a couple of stragglers yelled out Barry Brown Jr.’s name. He was headed to the locker room after a radio interview, but he stopped abruptly and changed directions. He hopped over a row of seats and went to give these Wildcat fans what they wanted: A selfie with the night’s hero.
Not long before, Brown had just finished giving K-State’s entire fanbase what it wanted.
His go-ahead layup with 29 seconds left sent K-State to a 71-69 win over West Virginia on Wednesday, erasing what had been a 21-point deficit at one point in the second half to set a new school record for the largest comeback ever.
“Barry made the right plays down the stretch,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said, as the Wildcats (11-4, 1-2) play next at Iowa State (12-3, 2-1) on Saturday at 11 a.m., on ESPN2. “Barry was special.”
Specifically, Brown was special in the second half.
The senior guard scored 20 of his season-high 29 points in the final 20 minutes. For the game, he converted 9-of-14 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line. He also tied his career-high with six steals, which played a big part in K-State scoring 25 points off West Virginia’s 17 turnovers.
“He didn’t play very well at Texas Tech. To be honest, he played awful. I told him that,” Weber said of Brown’s 16-point game on 17 shots at Texas Tech. “He came in and watched film on his own Sunday. He’s been in the gym every day — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, (Wednesday) morning. He cares. Obviously, he made some big shots.”
Brown personally scored nine of a game-changing 17-0 run in the second half. At one point during it, he put up seven in a row, including five from the free throw line. He capped the run with a steal and his patented right-handed flush across the lane.
“I think we just moved the ball well and I was able to pick my spots, attack downhill, kind of take what they gave me,” Brown said of his second half. “My teammates passed the ball and I was able to attack downhill. Then we set some ball screens and I was kind of reading and taking what they gave me.”
Later, Brown twice answered a pair of WVU buckets with one of his own. When K-State fell behind 58-48 with 8:51 to play, he got his team rolling again with a score at the rim. He brought K-State within two points when he drove to the lane, pulled up and hit a short fadeaway with 4:02 left.
“We tried everybody on him,” West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins said of trying to slow down Brown. “It wasn’t like he did it on one particularly guy.”
This was not Brown’s first rodeo, however. He had put his team on his back before. Oklahoma State last season — almost a year to the day on Wednesday — when he poured in a career-high 38 points might be the best example. He’s also come up clutch more than once; his layup against Kentucky should come to mind.
Wednesday was more of the same. His team needed him to do something special. Brown knew it. Weber knew it. Everyone in the stands and watching on national TV were hoping for it.
Once again, Brown provided it.
“We came out of halftime and Barry said to all of us, ‘If you don’t think you can win, don’t even try to get into the game, step on the court,'” Mike McGuirl, who scored 15 of his career-high 18 points in the second half, said. “That’s the sort of mentality we needed because we should have come out in the second half expecting that we could come back and win, and we did.”
Brown’s team listened to him at halftime. On his go-ahead bucket, Brown listened to assistant coach Brad Korn‘s advice.
“Coach Korn kept saying, ‘You’ve been going over the screen, going over the screen, and they keep going under. So, right before you go over the screen, reject it,’ and I just beat my man and I just tried to absorb the contact, play strong and go up and finish,” Brown said, “and I was able to finish.”
Source: Kansas State Sports