Courtesy of K-State Athletics
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Fifth-year senior Mark Smith’s corner 3-pointer with 3:28 remaining sparked a 12-2 run by Kansas State to end the game, as the Wildcats earned their first Big 12 victory of the season in impressive fashion over No. 19/19 Texas Tech on Saturday afternoon before 5,971 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
The victory not only gave the Wildcats (9-7, 1-4 Big 12) their first win in conference play after 4 narrow defeats, it also snapped a 12-game losing streak in the month of January and a 5-game skid against Top 25 opponents. The team’s last win in the month came in a 61-53 victory over Oklahoma at home on Jan. 29, 2020, while it was the first against a ranked opponent since a 62-57 win over No. 7 Oklahoma at home on Feb. 23, 2021.
K-State has now posted at least one Top 25 win every season since 2006-07.
K-State forced Texas Tech, one of the nation’s hottest teams with back-to-back Top 10 wins over No. 6/7 Kansas and top-ranked Baylor, into one of its worst offensive performances of the season. The Wildcats held the Red Raiders to their second-fewest points of the season and 24 points under their scoring average on 39.6 percent (19-of-48) shooting, including 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from 3-point range. They were also forced into 18 turnovers.
It marked the 100th win under head coach Bruce Weber when holding an opponent below 60 points, improving to 100-10 (.909) in his tenure.
The Wildcat offense, which managed just 26 points in the first half on 35.7 percent (10-of-28) shooting, got into a rhythm in the second half, scoring 36 after the halftime break on 50 percent (14-of-28) shooting. For the game, the squad connected on 42.9 percent (24-of-56), including 34.6 percent (9-of-26) from 3-point range.
Sophomore Nijel Pack led 3 Wildcats in double figures with 14 points on 5-of-14 field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers, to go with a team-high 7 rebounds, while senior Mark Smith and Mike McGuirl added 12 and 10 points, respectively. It was McGuirl’s first game back after missing the last 2 due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Although held in check offensively, junior Markquis Nowell found other ways to star for the Wildcats, posting game-high in both assists (9) and steals (5), while adding 7 points and 4 rebounds in 34 minutes. He has now led or tied for the team lead in assists and steals in 10 of 14 games played this season.
Finally playing with a full team for the first time this season with all 10 scholarship players available, the Wildcats fought off the ghosts of recent games, in which, they have led or been tied in the second half in each of their 4 Big 12 losses, including Wednesday’s heartbreaking 60-57 loss at home to TCU.
After losing a big lead and trailing by as many as 8 points in the first half, K-State ended the half on an 8-2 run to close to within 28-26 at the half. Texas Tech scored the first 3 points of the second half, but the Wildcats snatched the lead for good on consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore Luke Kasubke and McGuirl with 12:37 to play.
The Red Raiders continued to challenge, closing to within 1 point on 2 occasions, including 50-49 with 4:50 to play, before Smith’s 3-pointer provided the necessary lift to finish off the game with the 12-2 run. Smith had a pair of 3-pointers during the run, while sophomores Selton Miguel and Ish Massoud, along with Nowell, had 2 points each.
Texas Tech (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) was led by senior Bryson Williams, who had a game-high 20 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, but was the only Red Raider in double figures.
The victory was the 400th all-time at Bramlage Coliseum, including the 41st against a Top 25 opponent. The Wildcats are now 400-140 (.740) all-time in the arena, which opened prior to the 1988-89 season.