AUSTIN, Texas (Kansas State Athletics) – Sophomore Nijel Pack’s layup with 1:13 remaining proved to be the game-winner, as Kansas State held No. 23/22 Texas scoreless in the last 3:31 of the game en route to posting a 66-65 win over the Longhorns on Tuesday night before 11,498 fans at the Frank Erwin Center.
The victory gave the Wildcats consecutive wins over Top 25 opponents for the first time in nearly 3 seasons since posting back-to-back road wins over No. 20 Iowa State and No. 20 Oklahoma on Jan. 12 and 16, 2019. It also snapped a 5-game losing streak to the Longhorns and ended their 11-game winning streak in the Erwin Center.
K-State (10-7, 2-4) was led offensively by fifth-year senior Mark Smith, who finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-of-14 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with game-tying 8 rebounds. It marked his second 20-point game in Big 12 play. He was joined in double figures by Pack, who registered double figures for the 14th time in 15 games played with 16 points and senior Mike McGuirl, who had 13 points off the bench.
In a back-and-forth second half, in which, the lead changed hands 7 times, Texas (13-5, 3-3 Big 12) seemed to have gained the upper hand on the back of senior Marcus Carr, who scored 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime. Carr personally out-scored the Wildcats, 9-3, over a more than 2-minute span that gave the Longhorns a 62-58 lead with 5:26 to play. After 2 free throws by Smith, Carr went 1-of-2 from the line and fellow senior transfer Timmy Allen added a layup that extended the lead to 65-60 with 3:32 remaining.
K-State locked in defensively, holding Texas scoreless the rest of the game despite being over the limit in fouls, while getting huge baskets from Pack, including the game-winner on a feed from junior Markquis Nowell for a 66-65 lead with 1:13 to play after the latter had closed the gap to 65-64 with a pair of free throws.
With 12.4 seconds left, the Longhorns had one more chance, but Carr’s baseline jumper rimmed off and Smith grabbed the defensive rebound to secure the victory.
Smith’s last rebound was symbolic as it helped the Wildcats win the rebounding battle, 32-31, as they improved to 10-1 this season when out-rebounding their opponent. They snagged 12 offensive rebounds and converted those into 13 second-chance points. The performance was also notable came after K-State was out-rebounded by 12 to Texas in a 70-57 loss at home on Jan. 4.
The one-point victory was the Wildcats’ first this season by one possession after losing its first 4 such games.
As stout as the defense was in the win, the offense was just in impressive as K-State scored 66 points on the nation’s No. 2 scoring defense (54.5), including the most allowed at the Erwin Center this season. The Wildcats connected on 46.3 percent (25-of-54) from the field, including 38.9 percent (7-of-18) from 3-point range, and managed just 10 turnovers. The team was particularly strong offensively in the second half, in which, they scored 35 points on 54.2 percent (13-of-24) shooting, including 62.5 percent (5-of-8) from long range.
Texas finished at 42.6 percent (20-of-47) from the field, including 23.5 percent (4-of-17) from 3-point range, and were a stellar 21 of 26 from the free throw line. Carr led all scorers with 25 points on 6-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-5 from 3-point range, and a near perfect 11-of-12 effort from the free throw line. Fellow senior transfer Timmy Allen added 15 points, while fellow senior transfer Christian Bishop had a team-high 8 rebounds.
With the win, K-State splits the season series with Texas and now leads the all-time series, 23-21.