MANHATTAN, Kan. – For the second consecutive game, Kansas State used a decisive 18-2 run to end the first half to flip the momentum and carry the Wildcats to a 74-59 win over McNeese on Tuesday night before 5,223 fans at Bramlage Coliseum in the final game before the holiday break.
K-State (8-3) has now won 6 of its last 7 games and moved to within one victory of 400 at Bramlage Coliseum, which opened for the 1988-89 season.
Junior Markquis Nowell and sophomores Nijel Pack and Selton Miguel combined for 53 of the Wildcats’ 74 points, as Nowell and Pack each scored a game-tying 18 points, while Miguel tied his career-high with 17 off the bench.
The Wildcats showed the effects of their second game in 3 days, as upstart Cowboys broke open a 10-all tie with 7 straight points en route to building a 26-17 lead with 5:52 to play before halftime. However, a driving layup by Nowell seemed to spark the home team, as they scored 12 straight points as part of the larger 18-2 run to end the first half and take a 35-28 lead into halftime.
Just 2 days earlier in a 67-58 win over Nebraska in Lincoln, K-State used a similar 18-2 run to flip a 10-point deficit into a 33-27 lead at the half. The Wildcats are now 8-0 this season when leading at the half.
K-State continued the momentum to start the second half, scoring 12 of the first 16 points in building a 15-point advantage (47-32) with just over 15 minutes to play. Twice, the Cowboys closed to within 10 points, including 59-49 with 7:14 remaining, but the Wildcats responded with a 7-0 run to extend the lead and end any further rally.
After allowing McNeese to score 26 points in the first 14 minutes, the Cowboys had just 33 in the last 26 minutes between the first and second halves. K-State has now held 6 of 11 opponents this season under 60 points, including in consecutive games for the second time.
Starting together for the second straight game, the backcourt duo of Nowell and Pack showed their tremendous potential, as they each scored a game-tying 18 points, while Nowell registered his second points/assists double-double of the season with a game-high 10 assists. The transfer joined Steve Henson, Jacob Pullen and Angel Rodriguez as the only Wildcats to post two such double-doubles in school history.
Pack, who was missed 2 games earlier this season due to a concussion, connected on 7-of-15 field goal attempts, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range. He has now scored in double figures in 8 of 9 games played this season.
Miguel tied his career-high with 17 points off the bench, as he hit on 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and went 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Fifth-year senior Mark Smith tied his career-high for rebounds for the fifth time with a game-high 10, while he chipped in 7 points, a game-high 3 steals and 2 assists.
For the game, the Wildcats connected on 47.2 percent (25-of-53), including 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from 3-point range, and made 73.7 percent (14-of-19) of their attempts from the free throw line.
McNeese (3-9) was led by freshman Christan Shumate, who had a game-tying 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting.
McNeese State broke an early 10-all tie with 7 straight points that was capped by an emphatic dunk by 7-footer Brendan Medley-Bacon at the 9:37 mark. The Cowboys responded to every Wildcat challenge over the next few minutes, extending their lead to 26-17 on a corner 3-pointer by junior Zach Scott with 5:52 before halftime.
A driving layup by junior Markquis Nowell seemed to get K-State’s offense going on the next possession, as the Wildcats scored the next 12 points to take a 29-26 lead on a pair of free throws by senior Mike McGuirl with 1:05 remaining. After a basket by MSU’s Myles Lewis with 50 seconds ended the run, K-State ended the half with consecutive 3-pointers from sophomore Nijel Pack and McGuirl to take a 35-27 into the break.
The Wildcats opened the second half by scoring 12 of the first 16 points to push their advantage to 47-32 after a dunk by sophomore Davion Bradford with 15:04 remaining in the contest. The lead grew to 16 points (53-37) after a 3-pointer by sophomore Selton Miguel with just 11 minutes to play.
McNeese twice closed to within 10 points, including at 59-49 after a 3-pointer by sophomore Collin Warren with 7:16 left. However, K-State responded with 7 consecutive points capped by a 3-pointer from Pack to push back ahead 66-49 with just over 4 minutes. The lead grew to as many as 21 points (74-53) after a pair of free throws by fifth-year senior Mark Smith before the Cowboys hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the final margin.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Junior Markquis Nowell collected his second points/assists double-double of the season with a game-tying 18 points on 5-of-8 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws to go with a game-high 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 34 minutes. He now has seven double-doubles in his college career.
Sophomore Nijel Pack also finished with 18 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range, to go with 5 rebounds in 32 minutes. He now has scored in double figures in 8 of 9 games played this season.
Sophomore Selton Miguel tied his career-high with 17 points off the bench on 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 3-of-4 free throws to go with 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 23 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
18-2 – For the second straight game, K-State ended the first half on an 18-2 run, flipping a 26-17 deficit into a 35-28 halftime lead. Five Wildcats (Markquis Nowell, Selton Miguel, Mark Smith, Mike McGuirl and Nijel Pack) contributed points during the run, including consecutive 3-pointers by Pack and McGuirl to end the half.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“I know that we tried to make sure the guys understood their style of play. Coach (Aiken) does a real good job with them. They are really aggressive. They get into you. We told them they were going to foul. They play a different style. I think it’s good. The problem is that we didn’t really have a day of prep. To our guys’ credit, once we adjusted, we went small ball. We had the nice run to finish the half. Mike McGuirl had two really nice plays, a kick to Nijel (Pack) for a three, then a steal and a pull-up three. He takes his time and follows through and showed some maturity there. We had our chances in our second half to really put the game away. We missed layups and missed some easy ones and missed some open threes, but it’s a good win. You get to go home and relax a little bit. Obviously, a lot of tough games coming up within the league. I’m sure you all saw the Big 12’s tweet about where we are in the NET ratings as a league. That’s why you come here, you have that challenge to play top teams basically every night and we have to get ready for that.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- With the win, K-State has now won 6 of its last 7 games and improved to 8-3 on the year.
- K-State is now 6-1 at home this season and moved to within one victory of 400 all-time at Bramlage Coliseum (399-138), which opened for the 1988-89 season.
- Tonight’s game was the first meeting between K-State and McNeese State… The Wildcats are now 4-0 against teams from the Southland Conference with all 4 wins coming at home.
- K-State used a starting lineup of junior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Nijel Pack, fifth-year senior Mark Smith, sophomore Ismael (Ish) Massoud and junior Kaosi Ezeagu… This marked the second straight game using this lineup and the fifth lineup used this season… Ezeagu, Massoud and Smith have each started the first 11 games… Ezeagu earned a start in his 17th career game at K-State… Massoud now has 19 starts in his college career… Smith now has 91 starts in his college career… Nowell earned his fifth straight start at K-State, while he now has 57 in his college career… Pack has now started 33 games in his Wildcat career, including 8 of 9 games played this year (he missed 2 games due to injury).
- K-State scored 74 points on 47.2 percent shooting (25-of-53), including 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from 3-point range, and connected on 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from the free throw line.
- The Wildcats connected on at least 10 3-point field goals for the third time, all coming in the last 6 games.
- K-State held advantage in nearly all the specialty stats, including points off turnovers (16-13), points in the paint (30-22), second-chance points (8-6), fast-break points (16-11) and bench points (28-26).
- K-State has now had at least 3 players score in double figures in 10 of 11 games.
- K-State held McNeese to nearly 13 points under its scoring average (71.7 ppg.) on 43.1 percent shooting (25-of-58), including 35 percent (7-of-20) from 3-point range… The 59 points were their third-fewest scored this season.
- K-State is now 99-10 under head coach Bruce Weber when holding an opponent to 60 points or less.
- K-State held a 32-28 edge on the glass, including 26 defensive rebounds… The Wildcats have now won the rebounding battle in 9 of 11 games this season.
- K-State led at the half for the eighth time this season, rallying from an early 9-point deficit, for a 35-28 advantage at the break… Junior Markquis Nowell led the way with 8 points and 4 assists, while sophomores Selton Miguel and Nijel Pack each chipped in 6 points.
- K-State is now 8-0 when leading at the half and 0-3 when trailing.
- Junior Markquis Nowell scored a game-tying 18 points on 5-of-8 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line to go with a game-high 10 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 34 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 55 career games in college, including in 8 of 11 games played this season… He has now led the team in scoring in 5 games (all coming in the last 8 games).
- Nowell now has two points/assists double-doubles this season, which ties him with 3 others (Steve Henson, Jacob Pullen and Angel Rodriguez) for the most in a K-State career… Nowell joined Henson and Rodriguez as the only Wildcats to do it in a single season.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack scored 18 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range to go with 4 rebounds and 2 steals in a season-high 23 minutes… Pack has now scored in double figures in 24 career games, including in 8 of 9 games played this season… He has now led the team in scoring in 6 of 9 games played this season.
- Sophomore Selton Miguel scored a career-tying 17 points on 6-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 3-of-4 free throws to go with 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 23 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 12 career games, including 5 this season.
- Senior Mark Smith grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, while adding 7 points, 2 assists and a game-high 3 steals in 29 minutes… It marked the fifth time in his career he has secured 10 rebounds in a game, including 4 times in just 11 games in his time at K-State.
K-State will take break from competition for the holidays before returning to the court in the near future. The Wildcats’ game with Morgan State (4-7) on Wednesday, December 29 has been canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bears’ program. The department is actively pursuing a new opponent.