LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Senior Xavier Sneed scored a season-high 19 points, including 4 of the team’s last 6 points in overtime, to help propel Kansas State to a 60-56 come-from-behind victory over UNLV on Saturday afternoon before 8,796 fans at the Thomas and Mack Center.
Playing in their first overtime since March 2018, the Wildcats (2-0) went back and forth with the Runnin’ Rebels (1-1) in the extra session before a jumper by Sneed with 28 seconds left gave the team the lead for good at 56-54. A deflection off a missed shot by senior Amauri Hardy, who scored a game-high 27 points, went the way of K-State with 18 seconds, and junior Mike McGuirl calmly sank a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 58-54 with 13 seconds remaining.
Freshman DaJuan Gordon blocked a desperation 3-pointer by junior Jonah Antonio on the next Rebel possession with 7 seconds to play and Sneed finished off the Wildcat scoring by knocking down two free throws for a 60-54 lead with 4 seconds. A running lay-up Hardy at the buzzer closed the scoring at 60-56.
With the win, K-State moved to 2-0 to start a season for the sixth consecutive season and the seventh time in eight seasons under head coach Bruce Weber. Playing in their earliest road game in school history, the Wildcats claimed their first non-conference true road victory in close to two years, snapping a 3-game losing streak, and earned their first overtime victory in a road venue since a 66-63 win at No. 16 Oklahoma on Jan. 10, 2015.
Joining Sneed in double figures for K-State was junior Cartier Diarra, who finished with 12 points and a career-tying 6 assists before fouling out with 2:12 to play in overtime. McGuirl posted 9 points on 3-of-4 shooting, including 1-of-2 from 3-point range, to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 27 minutes. Freshmen DaJuan Gordon and Montavious Murphy each added 5 points.
UNLV, which scored 86 points in its opener with Purdue Fort Wayne on Tuesday night, was held to 56 points on 34.5 percent (20-of-58) shooting for the game, including 26.9 percent (7-of-26) from 3-point range. K-State has now held 89 opponents to 60 points or less in the Weber era with the Wildcats boasting an 81-8 mark in those contests, including 20 of their last 33 opponents.
Hardy was one of two Rebels in double figures with 27 points on 11-of-23 field goals, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, while Texas transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long added 10 points.
The Wildcats, who scored just 16 points on 27.6 percent (8-of-29) shooting in the first half, including 0-of-10 from 3-point range, finished the game at 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the field, including 17.4 percent (4-of-23) from long range. The team led for just 5:07 of the game compared to 30:58 for the Rebels.
HOW IT HAPPENED
A pair of jumpers by senior Xavier Sneed gave K-State a quick 4-0 lead but UNLV responded with 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from senior Amauri Hardy that forced head coach Bruce Weber to call a timeout with 14:30 left.
The Wildcats went more than 8 minutes without a field goal, missing 9 consecutive field goals, before a follow lay-up by freshman Antonio Gordon closed the gap to 14-6 with 10:13 remaining. The bucket ignited a 6-0 run that pulled the squad to within 14-10 on a jumper by Sneed at the 9:06 mark.
A lay-up by junior Mike McGuirl got K-State to within 18-16 with 3:26 before halftime, but UNLV ended the half on a 5-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Hardy that gave the Rebels a 23-16 lead at the break. Hardy canned the wide-open trey from the wing after Sneed went down with an injury and had to be helped from the floor.
Neither team shot the ball very well in the opening half, as UNLV connected on 33.3 percent (9-of-27), including 28.6 percent (4-of-14) from 3-point range, while K-State hit on just 27.6 percent (8-of-29) from the field, including 0-of-10 from long range. The 16 points were the fewest in a first half by the Wildcats in nearly 5 years since scoring 12 against Georgia on Dec. 31, 2014.
Hardy led all scorers with 15 points on 6-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range for the Rebels, while Sneed led the Wildcats with 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
K-State was able to close to within 25-22 with baskets on its first 3 possessions of the second half, but a 3-pointer by sophomore Bryce Hamilton pushed the lead back to 6 at the 17:37 mark.
Sneed, who left with an injury late in the first half, finally gave the Wildcats a 3-pointer after 13 consecutive misses with 13:58 to play to close the score to 28-25. It was the first back-to-back treys by Sneed, who knocked one down on the next possession, to knot the score at 28-all with 13:11 to play.
A 5-0 run broke the tie and gave the Rebels a 33-28 after a pair of free throws by graduate transfer Elijah Mitrou-Long at the 12:12 mark. Sneed started a 7-2 run by the Wildcats by hitting on 3 free throws after being fouled on a corner 3-pointer that gave them a 35-33 lead with a 10:12 to play. It was the first lead since leading 4-2.
The lead was short-lived as UNLV scored 5 straight points to take a 38-35 lead on a layup by Hardy at the 6:47 mark. K-State chipped away before taking a 41-40 lead on a jumper by junior Levi Stockard III with 5:06 to play. The two teams battled through 4 straight ties over the final 5 minutes, including 41-all (4:53), 44-all (2:55), 46-all (2:16) and 48-all (1:08) before heading to overtime.
In overtime, reserve Nick Blair gave UNLV the lead first before McGuirl responded with a 3-point field goal on the next possession for a 51-50 lead. A pair of Mitrou-Long free throws returned the edge to the Rebels with 3:30 remaining before a 3-point play by freshman Montavious Murphy gave the Wildcats a 54-52 lead with 1:10 to play. A Hardy jumper gave the game its ninth tie with 44 seconds at 54-all.
A clinch jumper by Sneed with 18 seconds gave K-State the lead for good at 56-54 before two free throws by McGuirl and Sneed clinched the victory with 13 and 4 seconds, respectively.
After shooting 27.6 percent (8-of-29) from the field in the first half, the Wildcats hit on 46.7 percent (14-of-30) from the field combined in the second half and overtime and knocked down 12 of 13 free throws.
Sneed scored 13 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and overtime.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Xavier Sneed scored a season-high 19 points, including 13 in the second half and overtime, to pace one of two Wildcats in double figures. He went 6-of-18 from the field, including 2-of-7 from 3-point range, and 5-of-5 from the free throw line to go with 5 rebounds in nearly 40 minutes.
STAT(S) OF THE GAME
34.5/26.9 – K-State held UNLV to 56 points on just 34.5 percent (20-of-58) shooting, including 26.9 percent (7-of-26) from 3-point range. The Wildcats have now held 89 opponents to 60 points or less in the Weber era with the team boasting an 81-8 mark in those contests, including 20 of their last 33 opponents.