KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Kansas State Athletics) – Kansas State nearly dug itself out of an 18-point deficit with a gritty second-half effort, however, No. 13/12 Arkansas made the right plays down the stretch to hold off the rally in a 72-64 win on Monday night in the semifinals of the Hall of Fame Classic before 9,409 fans at the T-Mobile Center.
The Razorbacks (4-0) now advance to the Championship game on Tuesday night to play unbeaten Cincinnati (5-0), which knocked No. 14/15 Illinois (2-2) in the first semifinal. The Wildcats (2-1) will face the Fighting Illini in the consolation game on Tuesday at 6 p.m., CT.
Down by as many as 18 points, including 45-27, just under 2 minutes into the second half, the Wildcats closed to within 62-54 on a pair of free throws by sophomore Nijel Pack with 1:53 to play then to 66-60 on a Pack 3-pointer with under a minute to play. However, reserve guard Chris Lykes was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the last 1:46 to stave off any further attempts at a comeback.
Lykes was among five Razorbacks in double figures, tying for the team lead with junior Conner Vanover with 14 points each, while senior Au’Diese Toney added a near double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
Pack tied for the game-high lead with 14 points on 5-of-12 field goals and 3-of-3 free throws, while fellow sophomore Selton Miguel had a near double-double with a game-tying 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go with a career-best 9 rebounds. Junior Markquis Nowell added 10 points off the bench, eclipsing 1,000 points in college in a career that started at Little Rock in 2018-19.
K-State dug itself into its double-digit deficit with a poor offensive start, as the Wildcats connected on just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) from the field, including 0-of-10 from 3-point range, in the first half to go with 8 turnovers. The team flipped the switch in the second half, scoring 40 points on 46.9 percent (15-of-32) shooting.
The teams were nearly identical shooting the ball with K-State connecting on 37.3 percent (22-of-59) from the field compared to Arkansas’ 36.2 percent (21-of-58), as they combined to hit just 6 of 44 3-point attempts (13.6 percent). However, the Razorbacks took advantage of the 45 personal fouls to convert on 27 of 34 free throw attempts (79.4 percent), which was 10 more than the Wildcats (17-of-23; 73.9 percent).
K-State held Arkansas to 12 points under its scoring average (84.3 ppg) and more than 12 percentage points under its field goal percentage (48.4 percent).
The loss ended a unique streak for K-State, as the Wildcats entered the game a perfect 4-0 against SEC opponents in the T-Mobile Center, including 3-0 vs. ranked SEC foes (No. 23 Alabama in 2011, No. 8 Florida in 2012 and No. 21 Texas A&M in 2014). The team fell to 20-18 all-time in the T-Mobile Center.
Arkansas took advantage of K-State’s early turnovers to jump out to a 15-6 advantage and force head coach Bruce Weber to call his first timeout at the 13:17 mark of the first half. The lead stood at 11 (19-8) at the second media timeout with 11:55 before halftime.
The Razorbacks continued to push the lead, scoring 9 of the next 12 points, including 7 straight points, to take a commanding 28-11 advantage with 8:02 remaining.
The Wildcats twice closed to within 13, including 34-21, after a driving layup by senior Mike McGuirl with 3:35 left before halftime, but sophomore Jaylin Williams nailed his only 3-pointer with 2 seconds left on the shot clock to push the lead back out. The Razorbacks would end the half on an 8-3 run for a 42-24 advantage.
K-State was much more aggressive in the second half, as Miguel had a pair of buckets to go with one from Pack to close the gap to 47-33 with 15:35 to play. Moments later, sophomore Luke Kasubke broke the Wildcats’ skid from 3-point range with a triple from the corner with 12:16 remaining.
Miguel, who scored 9 of his 14 points after halftime, got the team within 53-43 midway through second half then knocked down a pair of free throws with 8:37 left to get the deficit into single digits.
A rainbow 3 from Nowell made it 60-52 with 4:32 to play then a Pack 3-pointer got the Wildcats to within 66-60 with 54 seconds. However, Lykes ended any comeback with his stellar performance from the free throw line.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Sophomore Selton Miguel nearly collected his first career double-double with a game-tying 14 points on 5-of-11 field goals to go with a career-best 9 rebounds in 29 minutes.
Sophomore Nijel Pack led the Wildcats in scoring for the third consecutive game by matching Miguel’s 14-point output on 5-of-12 shooting to go with 2 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in 28 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
13.6 – The two teams combined to hit on just 6 of 44 3-point attempts with each connecting on 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from beyond the arc.
IN THEIR WORDS
K-State Head Coach Bruce Weber
On the game…
“If you’ve watched their games, they’ve gotten behind to almost every team, even their exhibition, but they came out and attacked us. They were in attack mode. Their pressure was really good. They disrupted us. At halftime, you take a deep breath, figure it out and we just attacked them. The points in the paint in the second half were a big factor in us getting back in the game. If they’re going to pressure us, we just said we got to go at the hoop. I didn’t think we went at the hoop in the first half. We settled for 0-for-10 from 3 in that first half, settled with some empty possessions, and then took care of the ball a little bit better in the second half. We told the players that transition, and second-chance points would be the difference in the game and we were able to match some points off turnovers. We got the points in the paint, mainly in second half, fast-break points were 9-8. But the second-chance (points), I think two or three of them were off missed free throws, you look at it (16-8), that’s the game. There were a couple little plays, finish the layup, make another open three somewhere down the line that could have given us given us a little better chance. We knew they were going to be good. We knew it would not be easy. Now you got to move forward, and you got another very, very good team in Illinois tomorrow.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State falls to the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic for the first time in 3 meetings… The Wildcats are 6-3 all-time in the tournament, including 2-3 in games played in Kansas City.
- K-State played its 200th game in Kansas City dating to 1926… The Wildcats are 115-85 mark in those contests, including 20-18 at the T-Mobile Center.
- K-State is now 120-275 all-time vs. Top 25 opponents, including 72-195 vs. the Top 15… The Wildcats are 6-11 against the AP’s No. 12 team… Head coach Bruce Weber is now 27-64 vs. ranked teams at K-State.
- K-State is now 8-4 all-time against Arkansas, including 5-1 at neutral sites and 2-1 in Kansas City… This was the first meeting since a home-and-home series in 1990 and 1991… The Razorbacks have won 3 straight.
- K-State had been 4-0 vs. SEC opponents in the T-Mobile Center, including 3-0 vs. ranked SEC foes (No. 23 Alabama in 2011, No. 8 Florida in 2012 and No. 21 Texas A&M in 2014) before tonight’s loss.
- K-State used a starting lineup of sophomore Nijel Pack, fifth-year senior Mark Smith, sophomore Selton Miguel, sophomore Ismael (Ish) Massoud and junior Kaosi Ezeagu… This marked the second time using this lineup this season… Ezeagu, Massoud, Pack and Smith each started the first game… Pack has now started in all 27 games in his K-State career… Ezeagu earned a start in his 11th career game at K-State… Massoud now has 11 starts in his college career… Smith now has 83 starts in his college career.
- Three Wildcats – freshman Maximus Edwards, sophomore Seryee Lewis and junior Carlton Linguard, Jr. – did not play due to injury… Lewis is out for the season.
- K-State scored 64 points on 37.3 percent shooting (22-of-59), including 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from 3-point range, and connected on 73.9 percent (17-of-23) from the free throw line… The team shot 46.9 percent (15-of-32) in the second half after hitting on just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) in the first half.
- K-State had a season-low 7 assists on 22 made field goals.
- K-State held advantages in points off turnovers (17-13), points in the paint (34-30) and bench points (28-24), while Arkansas held a 16-8 edge in second-chance points.
- Nine of the 10 players scored in the contest, while seven had at least 2 field goals made.
- 27 of Arkansas’ 72 points came from the free throw line, as the Razorbacks shot a season-low 36.2 percent (21-of-58) from the field, including 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from 3-point range.
- K-State trailed at the half for the first time this season, falling behind 42-24… The Wildcats were held to just 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting in the opening half, including 0-of-10 from 3-point range… Senior Mike McGuirl led the way with 6 points off the bench.
- Sophomore Selton Miguel nearly collected his first career double-double with a game-tying 14 points on 5-of-11 field goals and 4-of-6 free throws to go with a career-best 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 29 minutes… It marked the second time he has led the team in scoring… He has now scored in double figures in 9 games, including twice this season.
- Sophomore Nijel Pack tied for the team lead with 14 points on 5-of-12 field goals and 3-of-3 free throws to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 28 minutes… He has now tied or led the team in scoring in each of the first 3 games… He has now led the team in scoring in 14 career games… He has now scored in double figures in 19 career games.
- Junior Markquis Nowell registered his second consecutive double-digit scoring game at K-State with 10 points off the bench on 3-of-7 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws… He also added 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 18 minutes… He scored his 1,000th career point with his layup with 22 seconds left.
- Sophomore Luke Kasubke had a season-high 5 points on 2-of-4 shooting in 16 minutes.
- Freshman Logan Landers scored his first career points with a 3-of-4 effort from the free throw line.
K-State returns to action on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats play No. 14/15 Illinois (2-2) in the consolation game of the Hall of Fame Classic at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.