Men’s basketball stays arms-length from Ole Miss, falls 67-56 in Big 12/SEC Challenge

Ole Miss forward Anthony Perez (13) grabs a rebound over K-State forward Dean Wade (32) and forward Stephen Hurt in the second half of the Big 12/SEC Challenge game against the Rebels on Jan. 30, 2016. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State men’s basketball team (10-10, 2-6 Big 12) couldn’t get a shot to fall in its 67-56 loss to Ole Miss (11-10, 2-6 SEC) during the Big 12/SEC Challenge match-up on Saturday, Jan. 29.

The Wildcats struggled to hit shots throughout the entire game, shooting 19 for 36 from the field for the night — a season-low of 30.2 percent.

Super-senior Mark Smith led the team with 20 points and 15 rebounds in his fifth double-double of the season. Eighteen of Smith’s points came in the second half.

“I kind of just kept getting rebounds, kept pushing it, just trying to keep going in the lane and making plays and I was having success with that, getting to the basket, playing under control,” Smith said. “I was focused on making my shots at the rim and obviously made some free throws as well.”

Sophomore Nijel Pack added 18 points as the second-leading scorer.

The Wildcats’ biggest lead of the game was by two points with 14:31 left in the first half. From there, Ole Miss kept the game in control.

The Rebels were led by Daeshun Ruffin with 17 points and Luis Rodriguez with 10. Ole Miss dominated in the paint, outscoring the Wildcats 32-14.

“We’ve been pretty good at protecting the paint with our defense,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “But they were able to get by us and create some situations where we couldn’t contain them, and they got tight curls a couple times.”

The Wildcats’ next game will be in Bramlage Coliseum at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, against Oklahoma State.