Freshman Selton Miguel connected on a 3-pointer with 9.7 seconds left to lift Kansas State to a 60-58 win over Omaha on Tuesday night in front of a limited capacity crowd of 519 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
The Wildcats (5-5, 1-1 Big 12) have now won four of their last 5 games after starting the season at 1-4.
The 3-pointer by Miguel came just moments after Omaha (2-8) had taken a 58-57 lead on a pair of free throws by senior guard Ayo Akinwole with 17 seconds to play. Akinwole led all scorers with 19 points, including 14 in the second half, on 7-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
With the Wildcats leading 45-37 with 14:37 to play, the Mavericks used an 8-0 run over a 3-minute span to knot the game at 45-all and set the stage for a back and forth contest the rest of the way. The teams battled through 6 lead changes and 4 ties in the last 11 minutes and neither team led by more than 2 points in the last 8:33.
Freshman Nijel Pack, who was hobbled by an ankle injury sustained in practice on Sunday and was questionable for the game, came up big in the waning minutes, knocking down a pair of jumpers to tie the game twice in the last 3:30, including 56-all with just over 2 minutes to play.
Fellow freshman Davion Bradford gave the Wildcats their first lead in nearly 7 minutes at 57-56 on a free throw with 47 seconds remaining before a foul on sophomore DaJuan Gordon sent Akinwole to the line with 17 seconds.
After an Omaha timeout, Miguel hit the game-winning 3-pointer with under 10 seconds to play from the corner right in front of the K-State bench on the team-leading sixth assist by senior Mike McGuirl, who has now dished out 27 assists (5.4 per game) in the last 5 games.
McGuirl and Miguel each tallied double figure points, as McGuirl led with 13 points on 5-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-9 from 3-point range, to go with his game-high 6 assists and 4 rebounds in a career-best 39 minutes, while Miguel had 11 points on just 3-of-14 shooting with 3 makes coming from long range in a season-high 35 minutes.
Pack scored 7 of his 9 points in the second half, while Gordon and Bradford each collected a game-tying 10 rebounds with Gordon adding an all-around stat line of 6 points, a career-best 5 assists and 3 steals.
The Wildcat defense continued to make strides, holding their second straight opponent to under 60 points while forcing a season-tying 11 steals. The team is now 88-9 under head coach Bruce Weber when holding an opponent to less than 60 points.
Akinwole was one of two Omaha players in double figures, as junior Sam’i Roe added 12 points.
K-State played just 2 players (McGuirl and D. Gordon) who were with the team a year ago, as the Wildcats played with 4 true freshmen, one sophomore and a junior college transfer. Sophomore Antonio Gordon was unavailable for tonight’s game, while the team continued to play without season-opening starters Montavious Murphy and Kaosi Ezeagu, who missed their seventh and sixth game, respectively, due to injury.