MANHATTAN, Kan. – No. 7/7 Kansas scored the last 9 points to complete its rally from a 17-point deficit, as the Jayhawks earned a 78-75 victory over Kansas State in the 296th edition of the Dillons Sunflower Showdown on Saturday afternoon before a season-best crowd of 9,737 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
Senior Ochai Agbaji scored the game’s last 6 points for Kansas, including the game-winner on a driving layup with 8 seconds left, as sophomore Nijel Pack’s 3-pointer was off the mark and Agbaji grabbed the rebound before being fouled for the final 2 points from the free throw line. Agbaji led the Jayhawks with 29 points.
K-State (10-8, 2-5 Big 12), which dropped to 1-4 in games decided by 3 points or less this season, led for nearly 37 minutes, including by as many as 17 early in the second half, before Kansas used a dominate second-half performance in the paint to secure its sixth straight win in the series.
Kansas (16-2, 5-1 Big 12) scored 26 of their 44 second-half points in the paint, including 10 second-chance points on 10 offensive rebounds. For the game, the Jayhawks posted a 45-23 rebounding advantage, which included 18 offensive rebounds that were converted into 19 second-chance points. The 45 total rebounds, 18 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points were all opponent highs.
Jayhawk senior David McCormack (15) and redshirt sophomore Jalen Wilson (10) combined for more rebounds than the entire K-State team, which managed a season-low 23 rebounds.
K-State fell to 0-6 when being out-rebounded, while in contrast, the Wildcats are 10-1 when winning the glass.
After erupting for 50 points in the opening half on near 60 percent shooting, K-State cooled off in the second half, managing just 25 points on 29.6 percent (8-of-27) shooting, including 25 percent (3-of-12) from 3-point range.
The comeback by Kansas overshadowed a near-legendary performance by Wildcat sophomore guard Nijel Pack, who scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-18 field goals, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range, to go with a perfect 3-of-3 effort from the free throw line. The 35 points tied for the seventh-most in a Big 12 game by a Wildcat, while it tied for the fourth-most by a sophomore in school history. It was the most points by a Wildcat against Kansas since Jacob Pullen’s 38-point performance on January 14, 2011.
Pack was joined in double figures by junior Markquis Nowell, who finished with 16 points on 6-of-14 field goals to go with a game-high 6 assists and a game-tying 3 steals in 34 minutes, while sophomore Selton Miguel added 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting with 3 rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes.
Pack’s 8 made 3-point field goals tied his career-high and were second-most made in any game in school history and the most by a Wildcat in a conference game, matching the 8 by Steve Henson vs. Iowa State on February 17, 1990, and Cortez Groves vs. Texas A&M on February 23, 2000. The only Wildcat to make more 3-pointers in game came in Askia Jones’ school-record 14 triple performance vs. Fresno State on March 24, 1994.
Pack scored 22 of his 35 points in near perfect first-half by K-State, which erupted for 50 points on 59.4 percent (19-of-32) shooting, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, en route to leading by 16 points at the half. Pack scored 13 points during a pivotal 17-9 run that gave the Wildcats a 31-22 lead and forced the Jayhawks to call their first timeout near the midway point of the first half.
K-State took its first double-digit lead at 38-27 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Pack and fellow sophomore Luke Kasubke with 6:19 remaining then, after a Kansas 3-pointer, Nowell helped finish off the impressive first-half with 7 points during the Wildcats’ half-ending 9-2 run.
A jumper by sophomore Davion Bradford propelled K-State to a 55-38 lead just 90 seconds into the second half before the first of 3 big runs by Kansas shifted all momentum in the game. The Jayhawks had runs of 11-0 and 10-2 before the game-deciding 9-0 run to end the game.
The 11-0 run cut the deficit to 55-49 at the 14:33 mark, while the 10-2 run closed the Jayhawks to within 65-63 with just under 7 minutes remaining. The Wildcats responded with 10 of the next 16 points, all coming from Nowell and Pack, to take a 75-69 lead into the final media timeout.
The 9-0 run started with a 1-of-2 effort by Agbaji from the free throw line followed by a pair of free throws from McCormack. Agbaji’s free throws with 55 seconds closed the deficit to 75-74 before the final sequence.
Agbaji led 4 Jayhawks in double figures with his 29 points, which came on 10-of-18 field goals, including 2-of-8 from 3-point range, and an 11-of-17 effort from the free throw line, to go with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Wilson and McCormack each collected double-doubles with 16 and 11 points, respectively, to go with their rebounding totals, while junior Christian Braun added 11 points and team-high 5 assists.
The 75 points were the most a K-State team has scored against Kansas in nearly 5 years, as the Wildcats connected on 45.8 percent (27-of-59) from the field, including 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from 3-point range, and made 61.1 percent (11-of-18) from the free throw line.
Today’s game extended one of the longest running rivalries in Division I men’s college basketball, as the two in-state rivals played for the 116th consecutive season, which is the third-longest streak. The 296 meetings are the sixth-most in Division I with Kansas now leading 202-94.
The two teams traded the lead in the opening moments before K-State broke the stalemate with 17 of the next 26 points to take a 31-22 lead at the 9:47 mark and force the first of 3 first-half timeouts by head coach Bill Self. Sophomore Nijel Pack accounted for 13 of the 17 points in the span, including 3 consecutive 3-pointers.
The Wildcats continued to push, taking a double-digit lead at 38-27 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Pack and fellow sophomore Luke Kasubke to force another Jayhawk timeout with 6:18 before halftime. The grew to 50-34 at the half, as junior Markquis Nowell was responsible for 7 of the team’s last 9 points.
A Pack 3-pointer and a hook shot by sophomore Davion Bradford helped K-State to a 55-38 lead just 90 seconds into the second half, but a series of runs by Kansas slowly erased the deficit. A 11-0 run over a near 4-minute span closed the deficit to 55-49 at the 14:33 mark while a 10-2 run closed the Jayhawks to within 65-63 with 7 minutes to play. The final dagger came on the game-ending 9-0 run with the Wildcats leading 75-69 at the final media timeout with under 3 minutes with senior Ochai Agbaji’s driving layup serving as the game-winner with 8 seconds.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Sophomore Nijel Pack scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-18 field goals, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range, to go with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in 36 minutes. His 35 points were the most by a Wildcat against Kansas since Jacob Pullen scored 38 points on Feb. 14, 2011.
Junior Markquis Nowell scored 16 points on 6-of-14 field goals, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and went a perfect 3-of-3 from the line, while adding a game-high 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 rebounds in 34 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
+22 – Kansas out-rebounded K-State, 45-23, including 18 offensive rebounds which the Jayhawks converted into 19 second-chance points. The 45 total rebounds, 18 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points were all season opponent-highs, as the Wildcats dropped to 0-6 when being out-rebounded.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“Obviously it hurts. Our guys were ready to play. We played at the magical level. Nijel (Pack) had one of those magical games. Markquis (Nowell) was really, really effective. They’re great at scouting, but we thought if we just played basketball and made him get in ball screens and kept the ball moving, you could have some success. We shot unbelievable in the first half, but we guarded them pretty well and you hold them to 34 which gives you a chance. But in the second half they just pounded us on the glass. I mean it’s pretty simple. They just kept coming at us. They were determined and then we had some chances. We had some open looks. We had some things go against us. But, no excuses. They are a really good team, one of the best in the country. I think we are a good team. We just let a great opportunity slip by. Special game as I said for Nijel. Special game for (Ochai) Agbaji, he gets the game winner. But we gave him too many easy ones. We allowed 19 second-chance points, 18 offensive rebounds and 40 points in the paint. That’s the big difference maker. We just needed somebody else to step up. Great crowd. Disappointed, but a long season to go. They got to keep believing, keep working and we’ve got to go to Baylor. We’ve got another tough one. See what we can do on Tuesday.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- The loss snapped the Wildcats’ 2-game winning streak and dropped them to 10-8 and 2-5 in Big 12 play.
- Kansas now leads the all-time series, 202-94, including 81-48 in games played in Manhattan and 29-5 in games at Bramlage Coliseum… The Jayhawks have now won 14 of the 15 meetings, including 6 in a row.
- K-State dropped to 1-4 this season in games decided by 3 points or less… Seven of the team’s 8 losses have come by a total of 28 points with just one loss by double figures.
- K-State fell to 8-3 this season when leading at the half.
- The 75 points were the most scored against Kansas since posting 88 on Jan. 3, 2017.
- K-State connected on double-digit 3-pointers for the sixth time, including the third time in Big 12 play.
- K-State had just 6 turnovers vs. Kansas, which tied for the second-fewest this season… The Wildcats have had single-digit turnovers in 5 games, including twice in Big 12 play.
- Kansas posted a 45-23 rebounding advantage, including 18 offensive rebounds which were converted into 19 second-chance points… The 45 total rebounds, 18 offensive rebounds and 19 second-chance points were all opponent season-highs… K-State fell to 0-6 when being out-rebounded.
- K-State’ fifth-ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense held Kansas to just 23.5 percent (5-of-21) shooting from long range, which marked the 10th opponent to have 5 or less 3-point makes.
- K-State had at least 3 players score in double figures for the 12th time in 18 games.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack scored a career-high 35 points on 12-of-18 field goals, including 8-of-12 from 3-point range, and a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line… It was his first career 30-point game… The 35 points tied for the seventh-most in a Big 12 game by a Wildcat and the most since Barry Brown, Jr., had 38 vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 2018… It tied for the fourth-most by a sophomore in school history and the most since Askia Jones scored 35 vs. Wyoming on Jan. 2, 1992… The 35 points by Pack were the most by a Wildcat vs. Kansas since Jacob Pullen scored 38 points against the Jayhawks on Jan. 14, 2011.
- Pack scored 22 of his 35 points in the first half on 8-of-10 field goals, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range… It was most points he scored in a first half in a career and the second-most in any half, trailing the 23 had in the second half against Texas A&M on Jan. 30, 2021.
- Pack’s 8 made 3-point field goals tied for the most by a Wildcat in a conference game, matching the 8 that Steve Henson had vs. Iowa State on Feb. 17, 1990, and Cortez Groves had vs. Texas A&M on Feb. 23, 2000… It also tied his career-high of 8 vs. Texas A&M on Jan. 30, 2021, and tied Henson and Groves for the second-most made 3-point field goals in any game in school history… His 6 made 3-pointers in the first half tied for the fifth-most in any half in school history.
- Pack has now scored in double figures in 31 of 40 career games, including 15 of 16 this season.
- Junior Markquis Nowell scored in double figures for the 11th time in 16 games played this season, posting 16 points on 6-of-14 field goals, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range, and a perfect 3-of-3 from the free throw line… He has now scored in double figures in 58 career games in college… He also added a game-high 6 assists and team-tying 3 steals in 34 minutes.
- Sophomore Selton Miguel scored in double figures with 11 points on 4-of-10 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws to go with 3 rebounds and a steal in 26 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 14 career games, including 7 this season.
- K-State used a starting lineup of junior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Nijel Pack, sophomore Selton Miguel, fifth-year senior Mark Smith, and sophomore Davion Bradford… This marked the fourth time using this lineup this season and eighth different lineup… Smith has started all 18 games.
- K-State had all 10 available scholarship players available for the third time this season.
K-State continues action on Tuesday night when the Wildcats hit the road to face defending NCAA champion and No. 5/6 Baylor (17-2, 5-2 Big 12) at 7 p.m., CT at the Ferrell Center. The Bears have won the last 5 meetings, including all 3 in 2020-21. They have won the last 2 at home by 33.5 points per game.