Men’s basketball takes down McNeese despite slow start

Junior Markquis Nowell celebrates during K-State's Dec. 21, 2021 matchup against McNeese State. (Photo courtesy of K-State Athletics)

In the Kansas State men’s basketball team’s (8-3, 0-0) second game in three days, the Wildcats took down McNeese State 74-59 at home on Dec. 21, 2021.

Much like K-State’s previous game against Nebraska, it was an ugly start for head coach Bruce Weber’s squad.

“We were a little casual at the start,” Weber said. “We didn’t understand the animal we were going against.”

With six minutes remaining in the first half, K-State found itself trailing 26-17. Then, just like the Nebraska game, the Wildcats went on an 18-2 run to close out the half – heading to the locker room with a 35-28 lead, highlighted by a super-senior Mike McGuirl three-point buzzer-beater.

The momentum from the 18-2 run carried into the second half, as the Cowboys could not get back within ten points. Two free throws from super-senior Mark Smith with a minute-to-go gave K-State its largest lead of the night at 21 points, but McNeese State hit a couple of threes to make the final score 74-59.

Leading the way offensively for the Wildcats was junior Markquis Nowell, who finished with an impressive double-double of 18 points and 10 assists while picking up four rebounds as well. Team leading-scorer sophomore Nijel Pack also finished with 18 points, and sophomore Selton Miguel came off the bench and tied his career high with 17 points.

“[Nowell] is starting to learn that he doesn’t have to make those deep threes,” Weber said.

Starting for K-State — for the second straight game — was Pack, Nowell, Smith, junior Kaosi Ezeagu and sophomore Ish Massoud. Smith finished with seven points and nine rebounds, Massoud with three points and Ezeagu with no points in a limited role as Weber opted for a small-ball look for a majority of the game.

Off the bench outside of Miguel, McGuirl finished with five points and sophomore Davion Bradford with six points.

Nowell finished with an efficient 5-8 from the field including 7-8 from the free-throw line. Pack went 4-8 from three as the team finished 47.2 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three.

The Cowboys were led in scoring by freshman Christian Shumate with 18 points and junior Zach Scott with 11 points.

K-State was scheduled to take on Morgan State on Wednesday, Dec. 29, as its last non-conference game before Big 12 play begins, but because of COVID-19 issues within Morgan State, K-State is currently looking for a backup opponent. If the Wildcats can’t find an opponent, they are slotted to take on Oklahoma at Oklahoma on New Year’s Day.