ANALYSIS: Men’s basketball holds on down the stretch to defeat Oklahoma

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Senior forward Xavier Sneed leaps up for a shot during the men's basketball game against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 29, 2020. The Wildcats evened the season series with a 61-53 victory. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

In the Big 12 opener, the Wildcats held a double-digit lead against Oklahoma, but struggled down the stretch. The Wildcats eventually lost 66-61 in Norman, Oklahoma.

Wednesday night was a different story.

The Wildcats took care of business, defeating the Sooners 61-53

Head coach Bruce Weber is now 8-0 against the Sooners in Bramlage in his time at Kansas State. And to top it off, the Wildcats got a much-needed win to move to 9-11 and 2-5 in conference play.

The Wildcats have been on the losing side of so many close games this season the ability to finish down the stretch was crucial.

“If you study the scores, obviously we have been close, and we have been right there with everybody we just haven’t been able to get over the hump,” Weber said. “We are a good team — we just got to learn to finish games.”

K-State has had several close games this season with multiple matches coming down to the wire, ending in losses for the Wildcats.

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Junior guard Mike McGuirl scans the court for an open play during the men's basketball game against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 29, 2020. The Wildcats defeated the Sooners 61-53. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

K-State was able to lock it down defensively, stumping a late push by Oklahoma. It was all thanks to a big night from junior guard Mike McGuirl, who returned recently from a concussion.

K-State got their fair share of threes, mainly from McGuirl who tied his career-high 16 points, including 3-4 from three.

“I just tried to do my part and do my best to help the team win, and we were able to win tonight, which we very much needed,” McGuirl said.

The Wildcats played well on defense, limiting the Sooners to 53 points, which was one higher than their season-low.

“Kansas State did a good job defensively,” Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. “That’s usually the case when you have trouble scoring.”

The Sooners had three players with a combined 45 points per game and K-State managed to limit them to 23 combined points.

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Freshman forward Montavious Murphy looks across the court for an open play duringthe men's basketball game against Oklahoma in Bramlage Coliseum on Jan. 29, 2020. The Wildcats took the Sooners 61-53. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The young Wildcats were heavily depended on in this matchup. Freshmen forward Montavious Murphy and freshman guard DaJuan Gordon as well as junior guard David Sloan all started.

“They’ve all been learning. As any freshman comes in, they struggle a little bit, but they have soaked everything up,” McGuirl said.

The Wildcats will get freshman forward Antonio Gordon back from his suspension as they travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the Mountaineers at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“I hope we’ve made strides, but we’ll see Saturday,” Weber said.

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