Men’s basketball falls short against Baylor in second half

Nijel Pack sets up the offense for the Wildcats in K-State's 75-60 loss to Baylor on Feb. 9, 2022. (Macey Franko | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State men’s basketball (12-11, 4-7) stood strong with No. 10 Baylor (20-4, 8-3) through the first half, but the defending national champion Bears used their strong defense to get the better of the Wildcats on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 75-60.

The game began with an immediate turnover by Mike McGuirl, followed by Baylor’s Kendall Brown putting down a dunk on the other end. Less than a minute later, fans saw sophomore Nijel Pack score his first points with a three-point jumper.

Any points scored by the Bears were quickly matched by Pack and super-senior Mark Smith. At the half, the score was tied at 34.

However, after what began as a tight game, Baylor came back to the second half with new energy. A run of foul trouble for K-State led Baylor to shoot 12 second-half free throws after shooting just five in the first.

The Wildcats made runs throughout the second half, but the Bears always seemed to have an answer. With the help of a strong defensive performance, Baylor ended the contest at 75-60.

“I’m proud of our guys — we battled, they care,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “We came in to win, we didn’t, but now we gotta worry about getting Iowa State and moving forward.”

The one offensive positive for K-State was Pack, who dominated the court, scoring 31 of the team’s points. Pack went 10-19 from the field and 7-10 in free throws. The loss still overshadowed his scoring achievements.

“I mean, it just feels good getting the hard work to pay off, but the thing that really matters most to me is getting the win, and every time this has happened, we took a loss, and that really hurts on the inside,” Pack said. “Just being a player and wanting to be a winner so bad that you are willing to do anything to make sure we win, so that’s something I need to focus on and make sure we get it done next time.”

Smith was the only other Wildcat to reach double-figures with 17 points. The other three starters, super-senior Mike McGuirl, sophomore Davion Bradford and junior Markquis Nowell, finished with three, one and zero points, respectively.

Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua lead Baylor is scoring with 21, as the 6 foot 8 inch, 245-pounder feasted in the paint when K-State decided to play small-ball. The Bears’ James Akinjo and Adam Flagler finished with 15 and ten points, respectively, as six Baylor players finished with at least eight points.

K-State came into the contest on a two-game win streak and looking to extend its lead over Oklahoma for the six-spot in the conference rankings. With the loss, the Wildcats move into seventh place and are looking at a first-round tournament match-up with Iowa State.

The Wildcats travel to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State at 3 p.m. on Feb. 12, with the game airing on ESPNU.