MANHATTAN, Kan. – Sophomore Nijel Pack’s 3-point field goal with 2.2 seconds left proved to the game-winner, as Kansas State earned a 71-68 victory over Oklahoma State in yet another nail-biting Big 12 game before 5,860 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The win snapped a 3-game losing streak by K-State (11-10, 3-6 Big 12) and helped the Wildcats jump into a four-way tie for sixth place at the midway point of the Big 12 schedule.
In a season defined by close games, in which, the Wildcats have played 7 games decided by one possession, including 6 in Big 12 play, the team was finally able to get the game-winner after heartbreaking losses on the road at Oklahoma and West Virginia and a home to TCU and Kansas.
Pack’s first career game-winner gave him a game-tying 22 points, his seventh career 20-point game and his team-leading fourth this season, while fifth-year senior Mark Smith nearly added yet another double-double with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Senior Mike McGuirl, who was making his first start in Big 12 play this season, came up big with a career-high 10 rebounds and team-high 4 assists to go with 6 points.
Oklahoma State (10-11, 3-6 Big 12) was led by an impressive effort by sophomore transfer Bryce Thompson, who matched Pack’s 22 points, finishing 10-of-14 from the field.
In a game marked by 11 lead changes and 9 ties, K-State was able to secure the win on Pack’s fourth 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds to help rally the Wildcats from a 5-point deficit with 8:11 to play. In the last 7 minutes alone, there were 5 lead changes and 3 ties. The game-winner was Pack’s only made 3-pointer in the second half after he scored 13 points in perfect first-half, in which, he went 5-of-5 from the field, including 3-of-3 from long range.
K-State enjoyed a strong start to the game, taking a 39-32 lead into halftime after ending the half on a 13-0 run. The Wildcats tied a season-high by connecting on 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the field in the first half, including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range. However, things tightened up in the second half, as the Cowboys hit on 50 percent (14-of-28) of their field goals, while the Wildcats came down to shoot just 32.4 percent (11-of-34).
In addition to the strong by Pack, Smith and McGuirl, K-State got a third double-digit scoring effort on the night from junior Markquis Nowell, who finished with 12 points, while sophomore big man Davion Bradford, finally healthy after missing much of the last 2 games due to a hip injury, had his best game in Big 12 play this season with 7 points on 3-of-6 shooting to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in nearly 27 minutes.
After the big first-half, K-State finished the night by connecting on 45 percent (27-of-60) from the field, including 39.1 percent (9-of-23) from 3-point range, and 80 percent (8-of-10) from the free throw line. OSU hit on 47.4 percent (27-of-57) of its field goals, including 59.4 percent (19-of-32) inside the 3-point arc.
In addition to Thompson, fellow Cowboy sophomore Rondel Walker had 18 points on 6-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-11 from 3-point range, while junior Keylan Boone scored 13 points off the bench on 5-of-11 field goals, including 3-of-9 from long range. Junior Avery Anderson III dished out a game-high 7 assists.
The win snapped a 4-game losing streak to Oklahoma State in the series, including back-to-back at home.
K-State broke open a back and forth affair early with a 10-0 run capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore Nijel Pack to take a 16-10 lead at the 12:00 mark. However, Oklahoma State took advantage of some Wildcat turnovers to flip the momentum, using a 14-3 run to take a 24-19 lead with 6:50 to play before halftime.
Although junior Markquis Nowell got K-State to within 27-26 on a personal 5-0 run, OSU followed with 5 straight points to push its lead to 32-26 and force head coach Bruce Weber to burn his first timeout at the 4:18 mark. The timeout seemed to spark the Wildcats, as they ended the half with 13 straight points to a 39-32 lead into halftime. Pack was responsible for 10 of the 13 points, including his third 3-pointer of the half at the buzzer.
The Cowboys opened the second half with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 41-41, but fifth-year senior Mark Smith answered with a 3-pointer, as the Wildcats scored 9 of the next 12 points to take a 50-44 lead at the 15:35 mark. However, an intentional foul by Smith on Rondel White sparked a 9-0 run that pushed the Cowboys back ahead at 53-50. A jumper by Pack and a 3-pointer by Nowell briefly gave K-State a 55-53 lead at the second media timeout, but OSU responded with 9 of the next 11 points for a 62-57 advantage with under 8 to play.
Ironically, it was another intentional foul that provided the next swing, as one by sophomore Bryce Thompson on Smith helped ignite a 7-2 run by the Wildcats that knotted the game at 64-all with 5:03 remaining. Smith scored all 7 points in the stretch, including a set of free throws and an old-fashioned 3-point play.
Junior Avery Anderson III gave OSU the lead on a jumper at 66-64 before Smith tied it again on a jumper with 2:14 to play. Thompson made it 68-66 Cowboys on a jumper with 1:22 remaining but Nowell tied the game with a pair of free throws with just over 1 minute to play. Thompson missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Smith rebounded with 38 seconds left. Nowell missed a 3-pointer with 12 seconds but Pack was able to corral the offensive rebound before Weber called a timeout with 6 seconds to set up the final play by Pack.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Sophomore Nijel Pack scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, to go with 3 rebounds, a game-high 3 steals and 2 assists in 36 minutes. It was his seventh career 20-point game, including his team-high fourth season.
Fifth-year senior Mark Smith nearly had another double-double, posting 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range, and a 5-of-6 effort from the free throw line, to go with 8 rebounds in 35 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
10 – Although out-rebounded, 33-32, K-State was able secure 10 offensive rebounds, which resulted in a 12-7 advantage in second-chance points. The Wildcats are 8-2 this season when out-scoring their opponent in second-chance opportunities. The team won for the first time in 9 tries when out-rebounded (1-8).
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“Just couldn’t be happier for our guys. Obviously, we’ve been through a lot. We’ve lost some heartbreakers and we got one back tonight. I thought we were pretty good offensively in the first half. Obviously, it helps when you make shots, when you shoot 60 percent, but we read their defense and made the right plays. Then the second half went a little bit haywire a few times, allowed them to get out and run, get some transition. We had big plays down the stretch, especially on the defensive end. You go back to the close games we’ve lost, we didn’t get the stops at the right time, and we had five stops to finish the first half and we had stops to finish the game. And obviously Nijel (Pack) had missed four in a row, but he shot that thing with a lot of confidence.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- With the win, K-State snapped a 3-game losing streak and jumped above .500 overall at 11-10, including 3-6 in Big 12 play… Exactly half of the Big 12 is 2-6 or 3-6 at the midway point of the league schedule.
- K-State improved to 2-5 in games decided by 3 points or less, including 2-4 in Big 12 play.
- Seven of the K-State’s 10 losses have come by 28 points, including 4 of 6 Big 12 losses by one possession.
- K-State snapped a 4-game winning streak by Oklahoma State in the series… The Wildcats now lead the all-time series, 83-57, including 41-18 in games played in Manhattan.
- Nine of K-State’s 11 wins have come when leading at the half, as the Wildcats improved to 9-3.
- K-State is now 11-3 this season when holding its opponent below 70 points… In contrast, the Wildcats are 0-7 when allowing its opponent to score 70 or more points.
- K-State tied a season-high for field goal percentage in the first half, connecting on 61.5 percent (16-of-26) from the field, including 54.5 percent (6-of-11) from 3-point range… The Wildcats also hit on 61.5 percent in the first half of its win against Green Bay (12/12/21).
- K-State won for the first time this season when being out-rebounded (1-8), as OSU held a narrow 33-32 edge on the glass… 10 of the Wildcats’ 32 rebounds came on the offensive end, resulting in 12 second-chance points… The team is 8-2 when out-scoring its opponent in second-chance points.
- K-State had 3 players scored in double figures for the 13th time in 21 games this season.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack scored a game-high 22 points on 9-of-17 field goals, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, to go with 3 rebounds, a game-high 3 steals and 2 assists in 36 minutes… He has now led in scoring 12 of 19 games played… It was his seventh career 20-point game, including team-leading fourth this season… He has now scored in double figures in 34 of 43 career games, including 18 of 19 this season.
- Pack has hit on 4 or more 3-pointers in 8 games this season… He is the Big 12 leader in 3-pointers (63).
- Fifth-year senior Mark Smith nearly another double-double with 19 points on 6-of-11 field goals, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range, and a 5-of-6 effort from free throw to go with 8 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 35 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 53 career games, including 13 this season.
- Junior Markquis Nowell scored 12 points on 4-of-11 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and a 2-of-2 effort from the free throw line…. He has now scored in double figures in 60 career college games, including 13 this season… He also added 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 33 minutes.
- Fifth-year senior Mike McGuirl had a career-high 10 rebounds to go with 4 assists and 6 points.
- Sophomore Davion Bradford had his best game in Big 12 play this season with 7 points on 3-of-6 field goals to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in 26 minutes.
- K-State used a starting lineup of junior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Nijel Pack, senior Mike McGuirl, fifth-year senior Mark Smith and sophomore Davion Bradford… This marked the first time using this lineup and the 10th different lineup this season… Smith is the only Wildcat to start all 21 games… McGuirl earned his 7th start of the season and his first in Big 12 play… It was his 58th start in his career.
- Sophomore Selton Miguel missed his third game of the season after sustaining an ankle injury in the second half of the game at No. 4/4 Baylor on Jan. 25.
- K-State has only had all 10 available scholarship players available in just 3 games this season.
K-State continues Big 12 play on Saturday night, as the Wildcats travel to Fort Worth, Texas to wrap the season series against TCU (15-4, 4-3 Big 12) at 7 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now. The Horned Frogs won the first meeting, 60-57, at Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 12.