MANHATTAN, Kan. – Despite career days from senior Mike McGuirl and sophomore DaJuan Gordon, Kansas State couldn’t withstand a late Drake rally, as the Bulldogs snapped the Wildcats’ six-game winning streak in season openers with an 80-70 win in the first game of the Little Apple Classic on Wednesday.
With K-State (0-1) holding a 47-40 lead less 5 minutes into the second half, Drake (1-0) took advantage of some costly Wildcat turnovers to ignite a 10-2 run and take a 50-49 advantage with 11:01 to play. The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before a dunk by transfer Shanquan Hemphill broke a 55-all tie and gave the Bulldogs the lead for good at 57-55 with 7:24 to play.
K-State rallied to within 3 points on several occasions, including 65-62 on a layup by sophomore Antonio Gordon with just under 4 to play, but Drake scored 7 of the next 8 points to build the lead to 72-63 with 1:19 remaining and were never threatened the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs scored 42 of their 80 points in the paint and converted 59.5 percent (22-of-37) of their field goals inside the 3-point arc, while their bench provided a spark with 37 points, including a 15-point, 10-rebound effort from junior reserve Garrett Sturtz. Overall, Drake connected on 48.3 percent (29-of-60) from the field.
The loss spoiled the impressive efforts of McGuirl and Gordon, who combined for 37 of K-State’s 70 points. McGuirl collected his first career 20-point game with a game-high 22 points on 8-of-15 field goals, including 3 triples, to go with 6 rebounds, while Gordon tied his career-high with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Newcomers Kaosi Ezeagu and Nijel Pack each chipped in 9 points in their first career starts. Ezeagu, who sat out the spring semester after transferring from UTEP in January, added 5 rebounds and a game-high 3 blocks in nearly 30 minutes, while Pack dished out a team-high 5 assists. Antonio Gordon had a team-high 7 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench with 4 points and 2 assists.
Pack is just the 16th Wildcat true freshman to start a season opener since freshmen became eligible in 1971-72, including the fifth under head coach Bruce Weber, which includes such notable Wildcats as Kamau Stokes, Dean Wade and Pack’s current teammate Montavious Murphy.
For the game, K-State connected on 44.6 percent (25-of-56) from the field, including 36.4 percent (8-of-22) from 3-point range. The Wildcats were able to convert 15 offensive rebounds into 23 second-chance points.
In addition to Sturtz’s solid day, senior Tremell Murphy (12) and Hemphill (10) also scored in double figures for the Bulldogs, while preseason All-Missouri Valley Conference point guard Roman Penn dished out a game-high 8 assists to go with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Mike McGuirl collected his first career 20-point game on Wednesday, knocking down 8-of-15 field goals, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range, for a career-best 22 points. It marked his 11th double-digit scoring game, as he has scored at least 8 points (with 4 in double digits) in 6 consecutive games dating back to last season.
STAT OF THE GAME
59.5/42 – Drake took advantage of its opportunities in the paint, scoring more than half their points (42) and converting on 59.5 percent (22-of-37) of its field goals inside the 3-point arc.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“It was a difficult game for us. They’re a veteran team. Coach (DeVries) has done a nice job with back-to-back 20-win seasons. They have an experienced point guard. (Roman) Penn was really, really instrumental in the game, even though he only scored nine points – he got eight assists, one turnover, made all the right plays, got it to the right guys, got them in their offense. Once they got the lead it was all grind out basketball. They put us in that high ball screen and he just probed and probed and made the right play. Then they had two guys come off the bench – we knew (Jonah) Jackson could shoot it, he could make some threes. Then Garret Sturtz – 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds) – when you look at him, we told our guys he’s one of the best cutters, moving without the ball, he does all the dirty work. The bench really outscored us.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State is now 91-26 all-time in season openers dating back to 1903, including 79-10 at home.
- K-State is now 28-5 in openers at Bramlage Coliseum and 27-3 in season openers… The loss snapped a 6-game winning streak by the Wildcats in season openers.
- K-State is now 111-9 in non-conference play at home dating back to 2006-07 with wins in 98 of its last 105 non-conference home games.
- Head coach Bruce Weber is now 20-3 all-time in season openers in his career, including 7-2 at K-State.
- K-State is now 20-7 all-time against Drake, including 10-3 at home… This was the first meeting since 1956.
- K-State is now 45-19 against teams from the Missouri Valley, including 28-4 at home… The Wildcats have now lost 3 in a row to Valley teams.
- The Wildcats’ starting lineup consisted of senior Mike McGuirl, sophomore DaJuan Gordon, freshman Nijel Pack, sophomore Montavious Murphy and sophomore Kaosi Ezeagu.
- Ezeagu and Pack each started for the first time.
- Pack became the 16th true freshman to start a season opener since freshmen became eligible in 1971-72, including the fifth under head coach Bruce Weber following Marcus Foster, Kamau Stokes, Dean Wade and Montavious Murphy.
- Junior Rudi Williams and freshmen Davion Bradford, Selton Miguel and Seryee Lewis all saw their first career action.
- K-State scored 70 points on 44.6 percent shooting (25-of-56), including 36.4 percent (8-of-22) from 3-point range, and connected on 60 percent (12-of-20) from the free throw line.
- K-State allowed an opponent to score 80 or more points for just the 33rd time in head coach Bruce Weber’s tenure (out of 272 total games) at K-State… The Bulldogs scored 80 points on 48.3 percent shooting (29-of-60), including 59.5 percent (22-of-37) inside the 3-point arc with 42 points in the paint, and connected on 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the free throw line.
- Drake also got big production from its bench, outscoring K-State, 37-15.
- Drake took advantage of K-State’s 14 turnovers, outscoring the Wildcats, 19-8.
- K-State won the rebounding battle, 36-32, including 15 offensive boards that resulted in 23 second-chance points, which would have been a season-high in 2019-20.
- Senior Mike McGuirl scored a career-high 22 points on 8-of-15 field goals, including 3-of-8 from 3-point range, and 3-of-3 from the free throw line with 6 rebounds and 1 assist in nearly 36 minutes… It was his first career 20-point game and marked the 11th time in his career he has been in double figures.
- Sophomore DaJuan Gordon tied his career-high with 15 points on 4-of-10 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and 5-of-7 from the free throw line with 5 rebounds and 2 assists in nearly 30 minutes… It marked his seventh career double-digit scoring game and matched his career-high of 15 against West Virginia on Jan. 18, 2020.
- Sophomore Antonio Gordon grabbed a team-high 7 rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench.
- Sophomore Kaosi Ezeagu posted 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in his debut.
- Freshman Nijel Pack had a team-high 5 assists to go with 9 points on 3-of-6 field goals, including a 3-of-5 effort from 3-point range.
K-State continues play in the Little Apple Classic on Friday night, as the Wildcats renew their rivalry with former conference foe Colorado (0-0) at 7:30 p.m., CT at Bramlage Coliseum. The game will air on ESPNU.
*photo by Scott Weaver*