Defense Carries K-State Past Oklahoma

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From K-State

Kansas State forced Oklahoma into a season-tying 19 turnovers, which included 12 steals, as the Wildcats snapped a 2-game losing streak with a 61-53 win over the Sooners on Wednesday night before 8,472 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State (9-11, 2-5 Big 12) converted those 19 turnovers into 18 points, as the Wildcats won their eighth consecutive game against Oklahoma (13-7, 3-4 Big 12) in Bramlage Coliseum. The Sooners entered the game ranked tops in the Big 12 and No. 4 in the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game (10.2).

It marked an overall stellar defensive night for K-State, which held Oklahoma to just 35.3 percent shooting (18-of-51), including 19 percent (4-of-21) from 3-point range. The team has now held an opponent to 60 points or less in 95 games under head coach Bruce Weber with the Wildcats boasting an 86-9 mark in those contests. Seven of the 9 wins this season have come when the opponent has been held to 60 points or less.

K-State got 28 points from its bench, as junior Mike McGuirl led all scorers with a game-high 16 points, including 11 in the second half, while fellow junior Cartier Diarra added 10 points. McGuirl, who led the Wildcats in scoring for the first time in his career, connected on 4-of-5 field goals, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, to go along with a 5-of-7 effort from the free throw line. Senior Xavier Sneed chipped in 12 points to go with his game-high 4 steals.

The defensive intensity started for the onset, as Oklahoma missed its first 7 field goal attempts to go with 3 turnovers before a dunk by junior Kur Kuath gave the Sooners their first successful make at the 11:21 mark. By that time, K-State had built a double-digit that the Wildcats nearly carried the entire first half before a 5-0 OU run cut the deficit to 28-22 at the half.

K-State opened the second half with 9 consecutive points to push the lead back into double figures at 37-22, as Oklahoma once again missed its first 7 field goal attempts to start the half before a jumper by junior Alondes Williams at the 14:26 mark. The lead stayed in double figures until the last minute when poor free throw shooting by the Wildcats and two 3-pointers drew the Sooners to within 57-53 with 10 seconds left. However, McGuirl ended any further comeback with 4 consecutive free throws to end the game.

The Sooner scoring trio of senior Kristian Doolittle (6) and juniors Brady Manek (5) and Austin Reaves (12), who entered tonight’s game averaging more than 45 points per game, were held to just 23 points on 6-of-24 shooting. Williams scored a team-high 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting off the bench.

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Mitch Fortner

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