K-State marches to the Second Round for first time since 2012
Entering Saturday’s NCAA Tournament opener against 8-seed Creighton, Kansas State guard Mike McGuirl had scored 13 points this season.
He chose a nice time to double that number — and then some.
McGuirl scored a career-best 17 points, K-State played sterling defense on an offensive juggernaut and the 9-seed Wildcats advanced to the Round of 32 with a 69-59 victory in Charlotte.
K-State (23-11) led wire-to-wire, allowing a few small Creighton runs, but was never threatened down the stretch. The Wildcats put a stranglehold on the game with an 11-2 run that turned a 7-point lead into a 64-48 advantage with less than three minutes to go.
McGuirl played a huge role in the run, and capped it with his third three pointer of the game.
Former Wildcat Marcus Foster, the Bluejays’ leading scorer, was held to just 5 points on 2-of-11 shooting. As a team, Creighton, which averaged 84 points per game, shot just 33.8 percent.
Barry Brown played a big role in the defensive effort, and he was solid on the offensive end as well, scoring a team-high 18 points.
McGuirl’s special night began on a buzzer-beating, 35-foot three-pointer as the first half concluded, doubling his team’s lead from three points to six.
Dean Wade warmed up for the game and K-State coach Bruce Weber said he would play “in an emergency,” but he never appeared. His status moving forward is uncertain.
K-State started the game on a 10-2 run, which really set the pace on a night in which the Wildcats were efficient on both ends. A 7-0 run by the Bluejays early in the second half made it a two-point Wildcat advantage, but they always had an answer.
K-State is in the round of 32 for the first time since 2012, while Weber is making his first trip there since 2011 at Illinois. The Wildcats return to the court Sunday at a time to be determined. No. 1 Virginia is all but guaranteed to be K-State’s opponent.