MANHATTAN — It’s certainly possible that Saturday’s 85-46 blowout win over Oklahoma State was nothing more than fortunate timing for a first-place team in need of a comfortable win ahead of Monday’s hugely important Sunflower Showdown.

But for Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber, it’s a testament to how his three seniors prepare and lead by example, day in and day out, even if he wasn’t expecting such dominance.

“I got on them this morning at shootaround, because I didn’t think they had great emotion,” Weber said. “I just said, ‘We’ve been through this before.’ We didn’t get the right emotion and mental preparation for some games and let them slip. I said ‘It would be a shame if that happened.’

“But we jumped on them and did a great job defensively.”

With Monday’s matchup at Kansas looming, it was a best-case scenario for Weber and his team, which used a four-day layoff this week to rest guys in practice and prepare for the stretch run to finish out Big 12 conference play.

Not only did Weber get the chance to rest his starters and those dealing with nagging injuries, but the guys who came in off the bench, many of whom have struggled to crack the regular rotation, put on a show for the home crowd, which braved literal blizzard conditions to watch the Wildcats win big.

K-State got about as good of a start as Weber could have hoped for, jumping out to a 13-0 lead at the under-16 timeout on 6-of-7 shooting and smothering defense that forced four early turnovers.

Oklahoma State finally scored on a pair of free throws from Isaac Likekele at the 14:18 mark, but K-State didn’t allow the Cowboys to go on a run, answering on the following possession with a bucket from Xavier Sneed, who was questionable to play with the stomach flu but started anyway and didn’t miss a step. Sneed and reserve Austin Trice shared the team lead with 12 points apiece.

For Trice, the junior-college transfer who has been buried on the depth chart as the fourth big for most of the season, Saturday’s showing was more than just a confidence boost. Sporting a 24 percent free-throw percentage coming into the game, Trice’s 6-for-6 showing at the line meant nearly a 12 percent bump. The home crowd offered plenty of support, noticeably cheering loud for each successive Trice make.

“I know for a fact that the free throws brought a lot of energy to the team,” Trice said with a laugh. “I love it. I was very excited. I’ve been working hard on my free throws.”

For Oklahoma State, nothing went right on either end of the floor. K-State took a 24-point lead to halftime and continued to add to it until the game’s final minute, with the largest lead of the day coming at 41 points with on an alley-oop dunk from Shaun Neal-Williams to Nigel Shadd.

The big lead led to plenty of substitutions for Weber, with 13 different players taking the floor. K-State’s lead was so comfortable, walk on Pierson McAtee, a Manhattan native who came into Saturday’s game with just 14 minutes on the season, subbed in at the 12:30 mark with K-State leading by 27 and didn’t come out of the game.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton wasn’t surprised the Wildcats didn’t overlook his team ahead of Monday’s matchup.

“They’ll take care of Monday when Monday comes, but today I knew they were going to be locked in,” Boynton said. “That was the biggest key, they were locked in and ready to play and they really took the fight to us for 40 minutes.”

The win marked the largest conference victory since a 55-point win over Missouri in 1998. It also gave Weber his 146th win at K-State, tying him with Jack Gardner for third on the all-time list at the school. While Monday’s matchup at KU won’t seal the conference race with three more games to follow, both Weber and his players know how far a win at Allen Fieldhouse would go toward locking up an outright Big 12 title and breaking KU’s 14-year win streak.

Weber noted that it’s been several years (the 2014-15 season, Weber’s first) since the away game at KU has been played later in the season than the matchup at Bramlage. Whether having already defeated the Jayhawks ahead of the matchup at Allen Fieldhouse and being ahead in the standings will bring any type of psychological advantage remains to be seen. For his part, Brown said the team’s mindset going into Allen Fieldhouse is the same as always.

“There’s a lot of Xs and Os we have to clean up, because being a round-robin in this league, it’s a league of adjustments,” Brown said. “They’re not going to let us do the same things we did to get points and win the game. We have to adjust and do things a little bit differently to stop them.

“It’s going to be a fun game.”

 

No. 23 KANSAS ST. 85, OKLAHOMA ST. 46

OKLAHOMA ST. (10-17)

Anei 5-7 2-3 12, McGriff 1-5 0-2 2, Waters 1-3 0-0 2, Likekele 3-7 4-6 10, Dziagwa 2-11 2-2 8, Demuth 0-1 0-0 0, Hadlock 1-2 0-0 2, Mitchell 0-1 2-2 2, Simpson 0-3 0-0 0, Jones 3-11 0-0 8, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Wagner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-51 10-15 46.

KANSAS ST. (21-6)

Sneed 5-8 0-2 12, Mawien 4-5 0-2 8, Wade 2-3 1-2 6, Stokes 4-6 0-0 11, Brown 3-6 4-5 10, Trice 3-4 6-6 12, Love 0-0 0-0 0, Shadd 1-2 0-0 2, McAtee 0-1 0-0 0, Stockard 4-5 0-0 8, Muldoon 0-0 0-0 0, McGuirl 2-4 0-0 6, Neal-Williams 4-8 0-0 10. Totals 32-52 11-17 85.

Halftime — Kansas St. 42-18. 3-Point Goals — Oklahoma St. 4-24 (Jones 2-6, Dziagwa 2-9, Hadlock 0-1, Mitchell 0-1, Waters 0-1, Demuth 0-1, McGriff 0-2, Simpson 0-3), Kansas St. 10-20 (Stokes 3-4, McGuirl 2-3, Sneed 2-5, Neal-Williams 2-5, Wade 1-1, Brown 0-1, McAtee 0-1). Fouled Out — Waters. Rebounds — Oklahoma St. 20 (Jones 5), Kansas St. 35 (Brown 7). Assists — Oklahoma St. 9 (Likekele 3), Kansas St. 18 (Neal-Williams 6). Total Fouls — Oklahoma St. 17, Kansas St. 15. Technicals — Waters, Brown. A — 10,699 (12,528).