KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Senior Makol Mawien broke a 49-all tie with a layup with 1:18 to play before junior Mike McGuirl capped an impressive all-around performance with a pair of free throws with just over 1 second left, as Kansas State grinded out a 53-49 win over TCU in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship before 17,606 fans at Sprint Center on Wednesday night.
With the win, K-State (11-21) advances to the tournament quarterfinals on Thursday night, where the Wildcats will take on No. 2 seed and fifth-ranked Baylor (26-4) at 6 p.m., CT on ESPN2. K-State has now advanced to the quarterfinal round of the tournament in 13 of the last 14 seasons, including five in a row, and secured its third straight win over TCU (16-16) at the Big 12 Championship.
In a season where the Wildcats have lost 13 games by single digits, the team was able to close out a tight contest, outscoring the Horned Frogs 8-0 to end the game after they scored 8 in a row to take a 49-45 lead with 3:36 to play. Senior Xavier Sneed started the run with a jumper from the corner to close the gap to 49-47 at the 3:14 mark, while McGuirl tied the game at 49-all with a jumper just after the final media timeout with 2:22 remaining.
Mawien’s eventual game-winning layup came after a big defensive rebound from junior David Sloan with 97 seconds to play and was set up by McGuirl, who dished out his career-tying sixth assist to Mawien.
Defense was key for K-State, which held TCU to 49 points on 40 percent shooting (20-of-50), including 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from 3-point range, while forcing 14 turnovers. The effort was in contrast to the two regular-season losses to the Horned Frogs, in which, the Wildcats allowed a combined 25 3-point field goals. The team is now 87-9 under head coach Bruce Weber when holding an opponent to 60 points or less, including 8-1 this season.
The Wildcats were led by junior Cartier Diarra’s 13 points on 5-of-14 field goals, but it was the play of McGuirl, Sloan and Sneed that lifted the team down the stretch. McGuirl posted team-highs in both rebounds (7) and assists (6) to go with 8 points on 3-of-8 shooting, while Sloan posted 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting to go with 5 rebounds and Sneed added 8 points and 6 rebounds. Mawien finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds and game-tying 3 steals.
For the game, K-State connected on 38.9 percent (21-of-54) from the field, including 25 percent (4-of-16) from 3-point range, and knocked down 7 of its 8 attempts at the free throw line.
Sophomore R.J. Nembhard (19) and senior Desmond Bane (16) combined for 35 of TCU’s 49 points, while Bane chipped in a game-tying 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals in playing all 40 minutes. Only two other Horned Frogs (Kevin Samuel and P.J. Fuller with 7 points each) scored in the contest.
The win gave K-State back-to-back victories for the first time since starting the season with 4 consecutive victories in November. It also marked the first time since a 61-53 win over Oklahoma on Jan. 29 that the Wildcats have won a game by single digits, while it was the first win by 5 points or less since a 69-67 victory over Tulsa on Dec. 29, 2019.
HOW IT HAPPENED
For the second straight game, it was K-State that jumped out to an early lead, as the Wildcats led 6-2 at the first media timeout then 11-2 after a 3-pointer by junior Cartier Diarra and a jumper by junior David Sloan that forced a timeout by TCU head coach Jamie Dixon at the 13:33 mark.
The lead grew to 13-2 after a layup by Diarra out of the timeout, but the Horned Frogs responded with back-to-back layups by sophomores Kevin Samuel and R.J. Nembhard to cut the deficit to 7. However, on the next possession, Sloan canned a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 16-6 just before the second media timeout.
A dunk by senior Makol Mawien and a corner 3-pointer by freshman DaJuan Gordon continued the momentum for the Wildcats, as Dixon was forced to call a second timeout at the 9:44 mark with the lead at 21-8.
Neither team was able to score over a more than 4-minute span before a layup by junior Levi Stockard III went down to give K-State a 25-8 just before the final media timeout of the first half.
TCU finally ended its scoreless drought with a jumper from Nembhard at the 2:53 mark, which sparked a 7-0 spurt in a larger 10-3 run to end the half and cut the deficit to 28-18. The Horned Frogs scored 10 points in less than 3 minutes after going more than 17 minutes with just 8 points.
K-State connected on 35 percent (11-of-31) from the field in the first half, including 33.3 percent (3-of-9) from 3-point range, and knocked down 3 of 4 free throw attempts. TCU hit on 32 percent (7-of-22) from the field in the opening half, but just 20 percent (2-of-10) from long range, and made both their free throw attempts.
Nembhard led all scorers with 12 of the Horned Frogs’ 18 points on 4-of-6 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, while Diarra paced the Wildcats with 7 points on 3-of-9 shooting. Sloan added 5 points on 2-of-3 field goals, while McGuirl was solid all-around with 4 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
K-State started off the second half strong with 5 of the first 7 points, including a 3-pointer by senior Xavier Sneed, to push the lead to 33-20, but TCU responded with a 8-0 run, including back-to-back 3-pointers from senior Desmond Bane and Nembhard to force head coach Bruce Weber to call a timeout at the 15:29 left.
The run was 12-0 after back-to-back jumpers by Bane pulled the Horned Frogs to within 33-32, but a layup by Stockard pushed the Wildcats back ahead. However, on the next possession, senior P.J. Fuller was able to nail an open 3-pointer after a big scramble play to tie the game at 35-all with 11:13 remaining.
Sloan was able to hit on back-to-back possessions to push the Wildcats back ahead at 39-35 and force a TCU timeout nearly the midway point of the second half. The two teams traded baskets over the next few minutes before a Diarra jumper gave K-State a 45-41 lead and Weber called a timeout with 6:48 to play.
However, a 5-0 spurt gave TCU its first lead at 46-45 on a jumper by Nembhard with 4:47 remaining then Samuel added a free throw and layup to push the advantage to 49-45 with 3:36 remaining.
Sneed started the game-ending 8-0 run with a jumper from the corner to close the gap to 49-47 at the 3:14 mark before McGuirl tied at the game at 49-all with a jumper with 2:22 remaining. Following a big defensive rebound from Sloan, Mawien was able to hit the game-winning layup on a feed from McGuirl at the 1:18 mark.
TCU had several more opportunities in the last 60 seconds to take lead, including a wide-open 3-pointer by Nembhard that was just off the mark, before Sloan snagged the defensive rebound. McGuirl was fouled with just over 1 seconds left and hit both free throws for the final 53-49 margin.
Both teams shot better than 43 percent in the second half, including 46.4 percent (13-of-28) from TCU and 43.5 percent (10-of-23) from K-State. Bane scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Junior Mike McGuirl enjoyed impressive all-around game with 8 points on 3-of-8 shooting with a career-tying 7 rebounds and 6 assists in 36 minutes of action.
Senior Makol Mawien scored the game-winning layup with 1:18 to play to cap a solid performance with 6 points on 3-of-7 field goals with 5 rebounds and a game-tying 3 steals in 24 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
8-0 – K-State ended the game on an 8-0 run after allowing TCU to score 8 in a row to take a 49-45 lead with 3:36 to play. Three different Wildcats scored in the pivotal run, including 4 points from junior Mike McGuirl.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“We have been through a lot of these games all year, people that have fouled us and I think it’s nine games we looked at last night that was six or less. A lot of them the same thing where we had leads and teams make runs and we get dysfunctional and all three of these guys made good plays, David (Sloan) back-to-back jump shots, Mike (McGuirl) with a big pull-up and Xavier (Sneed) with a big shot down the stretch. I’m happy for them. They grinded it out, fought their butts off. I thought our defense was really, really good, slipped up a little bit at the end of the half. You know, I know (Desmond) Bane had 16 but he had to take 17 shots and has 5 turnovers, and I thought Mike did a great job with everybody guarding him. I’m just happy for them. We get to live for another day.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State is now 36-41 all-time in Big Eight/12 Championship play, including 16-23 in the Big 12 era… The Wildcats are now 3-2 as a No. 10 seed in their first appearance since 2005… The team is now 19-14 in the first round… K-State is now 9-2 all-time (5-0 in the Big 12 era) against the No. 7 seed.
- Head coach Bruce Weber is now 161-110 at K-State and 474-265 overall in his career… He is now 25-19 all-time in conference tournament play, including a 7-7 mark at K-State.
- K-State now leads the all-time series with TCU, 17-8… K-State now leads 3-1 (including 3-1 in Kansas City and Sprint Center) at the Big 12 Championship.
- The Wildcats’ starting lineup consisted of junior Cartier Diarra, junior Mike McGuirl, freshman DaJuan Gordon, senior Xavier Sneed and senior Makol Mawien… This was the third time using this lineup using this lineup and the 10th different lineup used this season, the most since 2014-15.
- Sneed has now played in 137 career games, including 104 starts (65 consecutive)… He is now all alone in second place on the all-time games played list with only Barry Brown, Jr. (139/2015-19) playing in more games… He remains all alone in 10th place on all-time starts list… He remains in fourth place on all-time minutes played list with 3,856.
- Mawien has played and started in every game in his career, which now stretches to 103… He is on track to become the first 3-or-more-year player to start every game his in his career.
- Diarra has now appeared in 95 career games with 58 starts, including 27 of 32 games this season… McGuirl has now started in 21 career games, including 20 this season, while making his 75th career appearance… Gordon earned his 11th start and has played in all 32 games.
- Junior David Sloan was the first player off the bench.
- Freshman Montavious Murphy missed the game due to injury (knee) and has now missed 13 games.
- K-State improved to 87-9 under head coach Bruce Weber when holding an opponent to 60 points or less, including 8-1 this season… Eight of the 11 wins have come when holding an opponent to 60 points or less.
- K-State held TCU to its third-fewest points (49) on the season on 40 percent shooting (20-of-50), including 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from 3-point range… It was the Horned Frogs’ fewest points since 42 at Texas Tech on Feb. 10… TCU had just 18 points on 31.8 percent (7-of-22) in the first half.
- K-State connected on 38.9 percent (21-of-54), including 25 percent (4-of-16) from 3-point range.
- Both teams turned the ball over 14 times, but combined for just 15 points off those turnovers… The 9 points off turnovers were the fewest by K-State since posting 6 at Kansas (1/21/20).
- K-State held a 36-27 edge on the glass with 6 different players posting at least 3 rebounds.
- K-State held a 15-0 advantage in bench points, including 9 from David Sloan.
- K-State led more than 35 minutes (35:29), while TCU led for just 2:25.
- K-State led 28-18 at the half, which marked its second straight halftime lead of at least 10 points.
- Junior Cartier Diarra scored a team-high 13 points on 5-of-14 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and went 2-of-2 from the free throw line to go with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 37 minutes… He has now led the team in scoring in 15 career games, including 14 this season… He has now scored in double figures in 40 career games, including 23 this season.
- Junior Mike McGuirl led the team in both rebounds (7) and assists (6) to go with 8 points on 3-of-8 field goals in a career-best 37 minutes… He tied his career-high in rebounds (which he also did against Tulsa (12/29/19), along with his career-high in assists (which he also did vs. Alabama State (12/11/19)… It marked the third time leading the team in rebounding and fourth in assists.
- Junior David Sloan posted a season-high 5 rebounds to go with 9 points on 4-of-7 field goals… His previous high of 4 rebounds came at Kansas (1/21/20).
- Senior Makol Mawien tied his career-high with 3 steals to go with his 6 points and 5 rebounds.
K-State will move onto the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship to play No. 2 seed and fifth-ranked Baylor (26-4, 15-3 Big 12) on Thursday at 6 p.m., on ESPN2.