Senior Mike McGuirl scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, including a string of 3 consecutive 3-pointers with under 4 minutes to play, as Kansas State rallied to knock off No. 7/8 Oklahoma, 62-57, in front of a limited capacity crowd of 896 fans at Bramlage Coliseum on Tuesday night.
Playing his Senior Night in a usually-festive, but sparce Bramlage Coliseum due to fan restrictions in the COVID-19 era, McGuirl played arguably his most impactful game of the season when it mattered most, helping K-State (7-18, 3-13 Big 12) overcome a 6-point deficit with less 4 minutes to play.
With the Sooners leading 53-47 with 3:57 to play after sophomore De’Vion Harmon made 1 of 2 free throws, McGuirl went on a memorable run of 3 straight possessions with a 3-pointer, starting at the 3:33 mark to close to within 3. He tied it with his second triple 42 seconds later then gave the Wildcats the lead for good with his third with 2:14 to play. He finished the night 7-of-13 from the field, including a career-best 5 3-pointers.
Sophomore DaJuan Gordon gave K-State a 58-53 advantage with a nifty layup around a defender with 1:15 to play before senior Austin Reaves converted on back-to-back layups to close the gap to 58-57 with 16 seconds to play. With only 3 team fouls, the Wildcats had to inbound the ball on 3 consecutive possessions before freshman Nijel Pack was sent to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 with 13 seconds remaining. Pack nailed both free throws for a 60-57 lead, giving Oklahoma one last chance to send the game to overtime.
However, K-State’s defense was locked in, forcing Reaves to take a contested 3-pointer that was eventual knocked out of bounds by the Sooners to give the possession to the Wildcats. Gordon was fouled with less than 2 seconds and calmly hit both free throws to close out the game, 62-57.
K-State, which posted consecutive wins for the first time since December, has now beaten at least one Top 25 opponent in each of the last 15 seasons, including each of the nine seasons under head coach Bruce Weber. Weber now has 27 wins against Top 25 opponents in his tenure with seven coming against ranked Oklahoma teams. The victory was also the 10th by Weber against a Top 10 foe, enabling him to tie Hall of Fame head coach Fred “Tex” Winter for the most by any head coach in school history.
The loss snapped Oklahoma’s 3-game winning streak, as the Sooners (14-6, 9-5 Big 12) lost to the Wildcats for the ninth consecutive season at Bramlage Coliseum. They have not won in Manhattan since a 63-60 win in 2012.
McGuirl was joined in double figures by freshman Davion Bradford (13) and Gordon, who collected his team-leading fourth double-double with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Freshman Nijel Pack added 9 points and dished out a career-high 9 assists in 38 minutes. It was the most assists by a true freshman since Marcus Foster had 10 against Baylor in 2014.
Reaves led all scorers with 25 points but had to do it on 18 attempts in 32 minutes, while Harmon added 13 points on 6-of-13 field goals. The rest of the team combined for 19 points on 7-of-25 shooting.
K-State finished at 38.6 percent (22-of-57) from the field, including 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from 3-point range, but knock down 11 of 13 attempts from the free throw line.
Defense was once again key for the Wildcats, which held Oklahoma to 39.3 percent shooting (22-of-56), including 20.0 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range.