AUSTIN, Texas – Sophomore Nijel Pack’s layup with 1:13 remaining proved to be the game-winner, as Kansas State held No. 23/22 Texas scoreless in the last 3:31 of the game en route to posting a 66-65 win over the Longhorns on Tuesday night before 11,498 fans at the Frank Erwin Center.
The victory gave the Wildcats consecutive wins over Top 25 opponents for the first time in nearly 3 seasons since posting back-to-back road wins over No. 20 Iowa State and No. 20 Oklahoma on Jan. 12 and 16, 2019. It also snapped a 5-game losing streak to the Longhorns and ended their 11-game winning streak in the Erwin Center.
K-State (10-7, 2-4) was led offensively by fifth-year senior Mark Smith, who finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with game-tying 8 rebounds. It marked his second 20-point game in Big 12 play. He was joined in double figures by Pack, who registered double figures for the 14th time in 15 games played with 16 points and senior Mike McGuirl, who had 13 points off the bench.
In a back-and-forth second half, in which, the lead changed hands 7 times, Texas (13-5, 3-3 Big 12) seemed to have gained the upper hand on the back of senior Marcus Carr, who scored 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. Carr personally out-scored the Wildcats, 9-3, over a more than 2-minute span that gave the Longhorns a 62-58 lead with 5:26 to play. After 2 free throws by Smith, Carr went 1-of-2 from the line and fellow senior transfer Timmy Allen added a layup that extended the lead to 65-60 with 3:32 remaining.
K-State locked in defensively, holding Texas scoreless the rest of the game despite being over the limit in fouls, while getting huge baskets from Pack, including the game-winner on a feed from junior Markquis Nowell for a 66-65 lead with 1:13 to play after the latter had closed the gap to 65-64 with a pair of free throws.
With 12.4 seconds left, the Longhorns had one more chance, but Carr’s baseline jumper rimmed off and Smith grabbed the defensive rebound to secure the victory.
Smith’s last rebound was symbolic as it helped the Wildcats win the rebounding battle, 32-31, as they improved to 10-1 this season when out-rebounding their opponent. They snagged 12 offensive rebounds and converted those into 13 second-chance points. The performance was also notable came after K-State was out-rebounded by 12 to Texas in a 70-57 loss at home on Jan. 4.
The one-point victory was the Wildcats’ first this season by one possession after losing its first 4 such games.
As stout as the defense was in the win, the offense was just in impressive as K-State scored 66 points on the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense (54.5), including the most allowed at the Erwin Center this season. The Wildcats connected on 46.3 percent (25-of-54) from the field, including 38.9 percent (7-of-18) from 3-point range, and managed just 10 turnovers. The team was particularly strong offensively in the second half, in which, they scored 35 points on 54.2 percent (13-of-24) shooting, including 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from long range.
Texas finished at 42.6 percent (20-of-47) from the field, including 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from 3-point range, and were a stellar 21 of 26 from the free throw line. Carr led all scorers with 25 points on 6-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and a near perfect 11-of-12 effort from the free throw line. Fellow senior transfer Timmy Allen added 15 points, while fellow senior transfer Christian Bishop had a team-high 8 rebounds.
With the win, K-State splits the season series with Texas and now leads the all-time series, 23-21.
Texas took advantage of a poor offensive start by K-State, using a 13-4 run to break an early 6-all tie to jump out to a 19-10 advantage at the second media timeout at the 10:52 mark of the first half. The Wildcats made just 5 of their first 16 field goals (31 percent), while the Longhorns made 7 of 10 field goals (70 percent) and 5 of 6 attempts (83.3 percent) from the free throw line.
Trailing 26-19 after a pair of free throws by Texas’ Timmy Allen with 6:14 to play, K-State started to slowly chip away at the deficit, using a 10-4 run capped by a 3-pointer by senior Mike McGuirl, to close to within 30-29 with less than 3 to play before halftime. However, the Longhorns were able to close out the first half with a 35-31 lead as Allen knocked down a pull-up jumper with 5 seconds.
Texas stayed ahead of K-State in the early moments before a 7-0 run gave the Wildcats a 47-44 lead at the 12:11 mark. During the 7-0 run, three different players scored, including a 3-pointer by sophomore Nijel Pack that gave the team their first lead in the second half with 13:01 left.
The teams traded the lead 4 times over the next few minutes before Texas’ Marcus Carr outscored K-State, 9-3, capped by a 3-pointer, to give the Longhorns a 62-58 lead with 5:26 remaining.
The lead stood at 65-60 after a layup by Allen with 3:32 to play before K-State ended the game with 6 straight points, which included two buckets by Pack and a pair of free throws by junior Markquis Nowell.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Mark Smith turned in his second 20-point game of the Big 12 season, collecting a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, while posting a team-best 8 rebounds in 34 minutes.
Sophomore Nijel Pack scored in double figures for the team-leading 14th time this season with 16 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, in 35 minutes.
Senior Mike McGuirl collected double figures for the second consecutive game off the bench, finishing with 13 points on 4-of-6 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and a 2-of-2 effort from the free throw line.
STAT OF THE GAME
32-31 – K-State improved to 10-1 when out-rebounding its opponent, as the Wildcats held a narrow 32-31 advantage on the glass, which included 12 offensive rebounds that were converted into 13 second-chance points.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“Just thrilled for our guys. The game didn’t start like we had hoped. They kind of took it to us, but we weathered the storm. We just kept grinding and fought through it. We fought through foul trouble. We fought through a bunch of stuff. Obviously, Mark (Smith) helped us stay in it in the first half. Nijel (Pack) made a couple big shots. We were missing layups, missing free throws, but we’re right there and I told our guys to just give yourself a chance. I thought the start to the second half was good. We were pretty good defensively, especially early in the second half. (Marcus) Carr got going. He’s a really, really talented player. Mark just a special effort. 22 points, big shots, big rebounds. Nijel made plays, but Mike’s (McGuirl) poise and pace. I just keep emphasizing to him, make simple plays. Make simple basketball plays. You do that and you’re a good player, and it was great for him. We couldn’t be more thrilled for him. Markquis (Nowell), it wasn’t quite his day today. But he gets that rebound, gets fouled, makes the free throws, he had the assist to Mike and then the biggest one to Nijel down the stretch. That was a huge play that made the difference. Just thrilled that we’ve taken another little step.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- With the win, K-State won back-to-back games since winning 3 in a row from Dec. 12-21… The Wildcats also won consecutive Big 12 games for the first time since Feb. 20-23, 2021, over TCU and Oklahoma.
- K-State won consecutive games over Top 25 opponents for the first time since knocking off No. 20 Iowa State (58-57) and No. 20 Oklahoma (74-61) on Jan. 12 and Jan. 16, 2019… It was also the first road Top 25 win since that win over the Sooners on Jan. 16, 2019.
- Head coach Bruce Weber is now 61-119 all-time against Top 25 opponents, including 29-66 at K-State… The 29 wins against Top 25 opponents are the most by any head coach in school history.
- K-State snapped a 5-game losing streak to Texas in the series and won for the first time since a 71-64 victory at the Erwin Center on Feb. 12, 2019… The Wildcats now lead the series, 23-21, and closed to within 10-11 all-time in games played in Austin.
- This was K-State’s first win this season by 3 points or less after losing its first 4 such games.
- Seven of K-State’s 10 wins have now come by double figures, while its 3 road wins have all come by single digits (6 at Wichita State, 9 at Nebraska and 1 at Texas).
- K-State won the second straight game when trailing at the half after losing its first 5 such games.
- K-State is now 10-1 this season when out-rebounding an opponent, as the Wildcats held a 32-31 edge on the glass, including 12 offensive rebounds that were converted into 13 second-chance points… This came after being out-rebounded by 12 in the first meeting on Jan. 4 at home.
- K-State won despite tying its season-low in assists (7) and posting its season-low in steals (2).
- K-State held the edge in points in the paint (28-16), second-chance points (13-7) and bench points (17-6).
- K-State’ sixth-ranked 3-point field goal percentage defense held Texas to just 23.5 percent (4-of-17) shooting from long range, which marked the seventh opponent to have 4 or less 3-point makes.
- K-State had at least 3 players score in double figures for the 11th time in 17 games.
- Fifth-year senior Mark Smith posted his seventh career 20-point game, including his second at K-State, finishing with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 8 rebounds and 1 assist in 34 minutes… It marked his third time leading the Wildcats in scoring and his team-leading 10th time as the rebound leader… He has now scored in double figures in 51 career games, including 11 this season.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack scored in double figures for the team-leading 14th time in 15 games played this season, totaling 16 points on 7-of-15 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range… He has now scored in double figures in 30 of 39 games played.
- Senior Mike McGuirl scored in double figures for the second straight game off the bench, posting 13 points on 4-of-6 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and a 2-of-2 effort from the free throw line… He has now scored in double figures in 34 career games, including 4 times 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 third time using this lineup this season and eighth different lineup… Smith has started all 17 games.
- K-State had all 10 available scholarship players available for the second time this season.
K-State continues action on Saturday afternoon when the Wildcats return home to face in-state rival No. 7/7 Kansas (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) at 3 p.m., CT at Bramlage Coliseum. The Jayhawks have won the last 5 meetings with the last Wildcat victory coming at home, 74-67, on Feb. 5, 2019.