Men’s basketball wins second-straight game after trailing by double-digits

Sophomore Nijel Pack drives to the hoop against West Virginia on Monday, Feb. 14. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State men’s basketball is now 14-11 overall and 6-7 in conference play after coming from behind for a much-needed win over West Virginia.

The game started off hot with junior Markquis Nowell’s first three of the night. West Virginia then went on a 6-0 run just before super-senior Mike McGuirl hit another three to tie up the game.

“I think it’s our grit, even at Iowa State, you felt it we just want to win,” super-senior Mark Smith said. “Guys really brought their own energy, and when we cut the lead down, we all just knew that we would fight and come back and win.”

A bucket in the second half from West Virginia’s Taz Sherman pushed the Mountaineers’ lead to 10 points — the highest of the game — but K-State fought its way back to tie it up. Capitalizing on an 11-0 run, the Wildcats took the lead with less than 12 minutes left in the game. After that, K-State held the lead the rest of the contest, winning 78-73.

“We’ve been emphasizing leadership and accountability. They took up accountability, and even our guys on the bench helped come up with what they’ve been saying, ‘One more pass,'” head coach Bruce Weber said. “[We] moved the ball really well. Like, we got in the paint and kicked it, and that was one of our best qualities tonight.”

Sophomore Nijel Pack had a rough game by his standards, tallying 13 points and five assists, as he’s averaged nearly 20 points per game in conference play. Smith and Nowell both stepped up and made a big impact in the game — 17 points and ten rebounds for Smith, while Nowell had 21 points on 7-11 shooting.

“I really try to strategize, I don’t like being on the bench and not be able to control a situation or be out there for my teammates,” Nowell said. “If I am not gasping for air, I do not want to get subbed out, but when I do get subbed out, I know coach [Weber] is just getting me a breather, and I’ll be right back out there.”

K-State is back on the court against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, airing on ESPNU.