KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Remove Dean Wade from the lineup and the Kansas State basketball team becomes unpredictable.
Sometimes the Wildcats rally around his absence and play at a high level the way they did last year in the NCAA Tournament. Other times, they go cold and look abysmal.
We saw a little bit of both from K-State during a 70-61 victory over TCU in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday at the Sprint Center.
The Wildcats looked out of sorts in the opening moments without their star forward and fell behind by 12 points in the first half. But they eventually adjusted to life with him on the bench, wearing a walking boot on his right foot, and steamrolled the Horned Frogs the rest of the way.
K-State advances to the semifinals, where it will play Iowa State at 6 p.m. on Friday.
Perhaps the Wildcats can hit the ground running in that game. They might have simply needed a few minutes to get acclimated to life without Wade against TCU, because things went much smoother for Bruce Weber's team after the opening moments.
Xavier Sneed led the way with a season-high matching 19 points, Barry Brown added 12, Kamau Stokes had 10 and Makol Mawien had his latest quality game in this building, finishing with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Still, Thing started ominously for the Wildcats.
TCU jumped to a 23-11 lead midway through the first half behind a hot Desmond Bane (16 points) and K-State seemed to have answers. It made just two of its first 12 shots and looked a smidge disinterested after sharing the regular season Big 12 championship with Texas Tech.
Austin Trice made his first start in this game, but he only played six minutes. It was reserve forward Levi Stockard who came off the bench and made a big difference. The sophomore from St. Louis matched his career high by scoring eight points on five shots in the first half. Not bad, considering he only played eight minutes.