Two weeks to the day after a 48-point loss at #2 Baylor – the worst loss in school history – the Kansas State men’s basketball team pushed 13th ranked Texas to the final buzzer on Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum. The Longhorns survived with an 80-77 win, but the Wildcats left with a renewed sense of confidence that they can compete with the upper crust of the Big 12.
K-State had a chance to tie the game in the final moments. Mike McGuirl took an inbounds pass with just over four seconds left and bolted toward midcourt. Aware of Texas’ ploy to foul him and force two free throws, McGuirl launched his last gasp heave from the center circle. The Longhorns could finally breathe a sigh of relief when it caromed off the rim.
“I just wanted it for our guys,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said. “They’ve been knocked down, kicked around, and they keep getting up.”
Texas left the door open after Courtney Ramey blew an open dunk that would have put the Longhorns up by six with less than a minute to play.
McGuirl and Nijel Pack led the charge offensively, combining for 40 points, and Antonio Gordon flirted with his first career double-double, finishing with eight points and ten rebounds.
There was plenty of fight to go around all night for Weber’s squad. After falling behind by 17 early in the second half, the Wildcats tightened their defense to claw their way back into the game. The lead was whittled down to one on multiple occasions in the final minute.
“I thought our defense for the last 8 or 10 minutes was as good as it’s been all year,” Weber said.
That defense was tested mightily in the first half by a blazing hot Texas offense. Just days after shooting only 25% from the field in a loss at Oklahoma State, the Longhorns knocked down 65% of their shots in the first half and connected on eight of their first 12 three-pointers. It overshadowed K-State’s best offensive half in nearly four weeks.
The Wildcats are still searching for an elusive second win in Big 12 play, but the last week has restored a legitimate sense of hope that another victory is possible. It wasn’t long ago that K-State lost four straight Big 12 games by an average of nearly 30 points per game.