Late K-State Rally Falls Short in 74-73 Loss


Sophomore Nijel Pack posted his third 30-point game of the season with a game-high 32

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Courtesy of K-State Athletics

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State nearly rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit, closing to within 72-70 and possession with 16 seconds to play, but Iowa State was able to hold on in the final seconds to pick up the 74-73 victory on Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 8,090 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.

Down 70-58 with 2:14 to play, K-State (14-14, 6-10 Big 12) nearly made a remarkable rally behind their defensive pressure and some clutch free throw shooting from junior Markquis Nowell, who converted on 10 consecutive free throws to close the gap to 72-70 with 49 seconds remaining. During this key 12-2 stretch, the Wildcats forced 4 turnovers, including a pair of 5-seconds calls.

Nowell got a huge defensive rebound off a missed 3-pointer by junior Caleb Grill giving K-State one last opportunity, down 72-70, with 16 seconds remaining. However, Iowa State (20-9, 7-9 Big 12) was able to force a turnover by sophomore Nijel Pack with 4 seconds left. Senior Aljaz Kunc was fouled in the backcourt with 2 seconds remaining and made both free throws to put the game out of reach at 74-70. Pack was able to knock down his sixth 3-pointer for the game’s final points as time expired.

The game was yet another painful one for K-State, which dropped to 3-7 in games decided by 5 points or less, including 3-6 in Big 12 play. Six of the Wildcats’ 10 conference losses have come by one possession.

It was yet another sensation effort for Pack, who accounted for nearly half of K-State’s 73 points with his third 30-point game of the season. He finished the day with 32 points on 11-of-15 field goals, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and a 4-of-5 effort from the free throw line in nearly 39 minutes. He is the first Wildcat with three 30-point games in a single season in 10 years since Rodney McGruder also had 3 during the 2011-12 season.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Wildcats combined for just 41 points, including 21 coming from the free throw line, as they went just 9-of-32 from the field, including 2-of-16 from 3-point range. Nowell (16 points) and fifth-year senior Mark Smith (12 points) were the only other players in double figures.

In contrast, ISU got a big boost from its bench, as the 3 of the 4 Cyclone reserves (Caleb GrillJaden Walker and Robert Jones) combined for 31 points on 12-of-17 field goals, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range. Grill, a Wichita native, led 3 players in double figures with 18 points on 6-of-10 field goals, all from 3-point range, to go with 6 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench. Senior Izaiah Brockington scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds, while freshman Tyrese Hunter nearly had a triple-double with 13 points, 10 assists and 7 rebounds.

The Cyclone also made the most of their second-chance opportunities, converting 8 offensive rebounds into a 15-4 advantage in second-chance points. The Wildcats are now 3-11 this season when being out-rebounded.

Nowell made up for his struggles from the field, in which he hit just 1-of-7 field goals, with a stellar effort from the free throw line, converting on 14 of 16 attempts, including 10 in a row to end the game, to finish with 16 points. He also added 6 rebounds and team-highs in both assists (4) and steals (3) in 36 minutes. Smith nearly had another double-double with 12 points and a game-high 9 rebounds before fouling out in just 25 minutes of action.

Pack scored 20 of his 32 points in the first half, including 8 during a 13-2 start by the Wildcats that forced a timeout by Cyclone head coach T.J. Otzelberger just 6 minutes into the game. However, ISU responded out of the timeout with a 13-2 run of its own to tie the game at 15-all before taking the lead for good with a 7-1 run near the end of the half. Pack hit on 6-of-7 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, and 4-of-5 free throws in the first half.

Pack, who has now scored in double figures in 19 consecutive games and in 41 of 50 career games, has now made 6 or more 3-pointers in 4 games this season and now ranks fifth in school history with 87 3-point field goals in a single season. It is the most made 3-pointers in a season since Jacob Pullen (110) and Denis Clemente (88) combined for nearly 200 during the 2009-10 season.

K-State enjoyed a strong start to the game, jumping out to a 13-2 lead behind 8 points from sophomore Nijel Pack that forced an early timeout by Iowa State at the 14:00 mark. However, the Cyclones settled down getting back-to-back 3-pointers from junior Caleb Grill that ignited a 13-2 run that tied it at 15-all with 9:51 before halftime.

Pack gave the Wildcats the lead back on a 3-pointer on the next possession and pushed ahead at 24-20 on a free throw by junior Markquis Nowell. Big 12 Newcomer of the Year candidate Izaiah Brockington caught fire with 3 consecutive baskets that gave the Cyclones a 27-26 lead into the last media timeout at the 3:31 mark.
Nowell briefly gave K-State a 28-27 with a pair of free throws but another 3-pointer by Grill started another run that gave ISU a 34-29 and forced head coach Bruce Weber to use his first timeout at the 2:19 mark. The Wildcats ran off 5 straight points after the timeout to take a 35-34 lead, but Grill ended the scoring in the first half with his fourth triple of the half to give the Cyclones a 37-35 lead at the break.

The teams battled back in forth in the early moments of the second half before ISU rattled off 7 straight points to take a 49-41 lead and force a timeout by Weber at the 14:16 mark. The Cyclone lead continue to grow, as they scored 9 of the next 11 points to take a 58-43 lead with 11:13 remaining.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from fifth-year seniors Mike McGuirl and Mark Smith ignited a 14-1 run by the Wildcats that closed the gap to 59-57 with 5:39 to play. However, the Cyclones responded with 11 of the next 12 points to lead 70-58 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

K-State made one last push in the final minutes, using its defense and stellar free throw shooting from Nowell to close to within 72-70 with 49 seconds left. However, Pack was forced into a turnover with 4 seconds remaining and senior Aljaz Kunc was fouled and finished off the game with a pair of free throws.

Sophomore Nijel Pack collected his third 30-point game of the season, as he connected on 11-of-15 from the field, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and made 4-of-5 attempts from the free throw line. He has now scored in double figures in 19 consecutive games.

Junior Markquis Nowell had solid all-around game, scoring 16 points, mostly on 14-of-16 attempts from the free throw line, to go with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in 36 minutes.

31 – Iowa State got a big boost from its bench, as 3 of the 4 Cyclone reserves (Caleb GrillJaden Walker and Robert Jones) combined for 31 points on 12-of-17 field goals, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range.

K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“I really thought our effort was great early and that’s something that we all talked about the last two games is just come ready to play and we had to be better defensively. I thought we were better defensively early. They didn’t have a field goal at the first TV timeout. But the problem was we made good passes, extra passes, we just didn’t make the shots. And at that point, that was when we probably should have had it stretched out where they couldn’t come back and that’s a credit to them. They’re good. Obviously four in a row. I thought (Tyrese) Hunter’s poise and his passing, 10 assists, making the right plays was huge. Obviously (Caleb) Grill got into a groove and was 6-for-10 from three. You look at the stats it’s pretty obvious, 31 points from the bench to our six and then 15 second chance points to our four. But again, we hung in there, we fought, we battled. We had a chance. I thought they were very physical with Nijel (Pack) on the last play but obviously we didn’t get a call and we lost the ball. It’s just a tough circumstance. Our guys care, they battle. I think sometimes they try to win on their own. And we’ve got to really help each other if we’re going to have a chance.”


  • K-State dropped just its third straight game to fall to 14-14 overall and 6-10 in Big 12 play.
  • K-State still leads the all-time series, 144-91, including 23-11 in games played in Manhattan… The loss snapped the Wildcats’ 4-game winning streak in the series.
  • K-State has played 10 games decided by 5 points or less… Six of the Wildcats’ 10 Big 12 losses have been by one possession… The team has led or been tied in the second half in 6 of the 10 conference losses.
  • K-State fell to 1-11 this season when allowing an opponent to score 70 or more points… In contrast the team is 13-3 when holding its opponent below 70 points.
  • K-State allowed 10 or more 3-point field goals for the fifth time, including in back-to-back games.
  • K-State was out-rebounded 37-26, including 8 offensive rebounds by Iowa State that resulted a 15-4 edge in second-chance points… The Wildcats are now 3-11 when being out-rebounded.
  • K-State scored 22 points off of 18 Iowa State turnovers, marking just the fourth time all season that the Wildcats have scored 20 or more points off turnovers.
  • Iowa State got 31 points from its bench on 12-of-17 field goals, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range… In contrast, K-State had 6 bench points on 3-of-10 field goals, including 0-of-3 from long range.
  • K-State is now 4-10 on the season when trailing at the half.
  • Sophomore Nijel Pack scored 32 points on 11-of-15 field goals, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and an assist in 39 minutes… It marked his third career 30-point game, all coming losses… His 3 30-point games tie for the 10th most in a single season, while he is the first Wildcat with 3 30-point game since Rodney McGruder in 2011-12… He has now scored in double figures in 19 consecutive games… He has double figures in 41 of 50 career games, including 25 of 26 this season.
  • Pack’s 20-point first half was his second 20-point half of the season and the most since he had 22 in the first half vs. Kansas (1/22/22).
  • Pack has now hit a 3-pointer in 31 consecutive games dating back to last season, which extends his own school record that he broke at home vs. Baylor on Feb. 9, 2022 and was originally set by Steve Henson (25) between Jan. 5, 1989 and Dec. 2, 1989.
  • Pack currently ranks fifth on the school’s single-season Top 10 list for 3-point field goals with 87… It is the most 3-pointers in a single season since the 2009-10 season when Jacob Pullen (110) and Denis Clemente (88) combined for nearly 200 makes… He already broke the sophomore record for 3-pointers (87).
  • Junior Markquis Nowell had a solid all-around game, scoring 16 points on 1-of-7 field goals, including 0-of-3 from 3-point range, to go with a 14-of-16 effort from the free throw line, while adding 6 rebounds, a team-high 4 assists and a team-high 3 steals in 36 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 65 career games, including 19 times this season.
  • Fifth-year senior Mark Smith narrowly missed another double-double, as he finished with 12 points on 3-of-7 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 5-of-8 free throws to go with a game-high 9 rebounds in 25 minutes before fouling out… He has now led the team in rebounding in 20 of 27 games this season… He has now scored in double figures in 60 career games, including 20 this season.
  • 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 eighth time using this lineup and the 10th different lineup this season… Smith is the only Wildcat to start all 28 games.
  • McGuirl cracked the school’s Top 10 list for career games played with his 129th appearance, tying D.J. Johnson (2012-12).

K-State makes its final road trip of the regular season on Monday night, as the Wildcats travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on No. 9/9 Texas Tech (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) at 8 p.m., CT on ESPN2. K-State won the first meeting, 62-51, at home on Jan. 15.

How to follow the ‘Cats: For complete information on K-State men’s basketball, visit www.kstatesports.com and follow the team’s social media channels on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Derek Nester
Derek Nesterhttps://sunflowerstateradio.com
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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