PREVIEW: Men’s basketball looks to keep momentum against Oklahoma

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K-State senior Mike McGuirl awaits a free throw opportunity against Oklahoma State on Feb. 13 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. McGuirl is the lone senior for the Wildcats. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Bay | Oklahoma State Athletics)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team (6-18) looks to keep momentum against No. 7 Oklahoma on Tuesday.

In last weekend’s game against TCU, senior guard Mike McGuirl led the team in points (16), rebounds (9), assists (5) and field goal percentage (43 percent). Tuesday’s game against the Sooners is potentially McGuirl’s last inside Bramlage Coliseum.

Head coach Bruce Weber said on Monday the program will honor McGuirl, but hopes he comes back next year. The Big 12 Conference granted an extra year of eligibility to athletes because of the pandemic.

“I talked to him the other day because we are honoring him,” Weber said. “The school has made the decision like they did with football to honor all the seniors just in case guys decide or something happens so at least they are honored. We’re honoring you, not because we want you to leave, but because you deserve it. We hope you come back, and we’ll find another jersey to give you next year if that’s possible.”

On the season, McGuirl is second on the team in points-per-game (11.5) and assists-per-game (3.5).

Over the course of his career, McGuirl racked up 639 points, 266 total rebounds, 191 assists and 77 steals. McGuirl also helped the Wildcats in their run to the Elite 8 and helped win the Big 12 Championship in 2018.

McGuirl is not alone this season — true freshman Nijel Pack contributed to the team’s success. Pack currently leads the team in points-per-game (12.2), assists-per-game (3.7) and steals-per-game (1.2). The duo of Pack and McGuirl need to play hot offensively for a shot for the upset Tuesday night.

Senior Austin Reaves leads the Sooners in points-per-game (16.8), rebounds-per-game (5.5) and assists-per-game (5.2).

Two of the last five games for the Sooners were postponed, but the team won the other three. In the most recent 66-56 win over Iowa State, head coach Lon Kruger said Reaves played a big part in the team’s win.

“He especially I thought got us off to a really great start,” Kruger said. “I thought he did a good job of converting and distributing and getting others involved to open the ballgame. And then when the game was on the line, he went to the line and made free throws. He’s had a lot of good ballgames, and we needed another good one out of him today.”

Sophomore De’vion Harmon sits at second on the team in points-per-game (12.4), assists-per-game (2.1) and is third on the team in steals-per-game (1.1).

The Sooners sit ranked at seventh in the nation and second in the Big 12 behind Baylor at 14-5 overall and 9-4 in conference play.

Tip-off against Oklahoma is set for 8 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum. The game is broadcasted on ESPN2 with radio coverage on the K-State Sports Network.

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