Senior night can’t get much better than Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum for Kansas State’s Mike McGuirl.
McGuirl put the team on his back with a stretch of three consecutive three-pointers to erase a six-point deficit with 2:14 left. It propelled the Wildcats to a 62-57 upset win over #7 Oklahoma – their second win in a row after a school-record 13-game losing streak.
“Y’all know I like to let it fly,” McGuirl said. “I was feeling good.”
McGuirl finished with a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds. He connected on 5-of-9 shots from beyond the arc on a night when the rest of the team was 2-of-18.
It capped off a weeklong stretch of redemption for McGuirl. He led K-State with 16 points in a win over TCU on Saturday, just days after playing one of the worst games of his career at home against Kansas.
“I’m just thrilled for Mike McGuirl,” Weber said. “Mike had his magical moment, and it’s something that he’ll remember for a long time. I hope this isn’t truly his senior day, but it’s obviously going to be one that he’s going to remember.”
The co-star to McGuirl was K-State’s rapidly improving defense. The Sooners were only 4-of-20 from three-point range and 39% from the field. It was the third straight game that the Wildcats held an opponent to less than 60 points, and the fourth straight game allowing less than 0.94 points per possession. It’s an “astronomical” difference from the beginning of the year according to Weber.
For much of the night it appeared that K-State’s typical shooting woes might spoil its stellar defense.
After taking a 38-31 lead early in the second half, the Wildcats missed nine straight shots and let the Sooners take control at 44-40. K-State wouldn’t lead again until McGuirl’s heroics pulled the game out of the fire.
Leading scorer Nijel Pack was only 2-of-12 from the floor and knocked down just one three-pointer. That’s usually a recipe for disaster.
DaJuan Gordon picked him up with ten points and 11 rebounds for the fourth double-double of his career, and Davion Bradford chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats pulled off the upset without contributors Antonio Gordon, Rudi Williams, and Carlton Linguard, who are all three dealing with minor injuries. Weber hopes that Gordon can return on Saturday at West Virginia.
This win isn’t likely to stem the tide of disgruntled fans after a season filled with the wrong kind of history. But it is a remarkable turnaround for a team that seemed destined for the longest losing streak in school history just days ago.
“We keep telling the guys if you worry about the right things and you have the right attitude, the game of basketball takes care of you. Mike was rewarded for his attitude and his commitment to the team and to this program,” Weber said.
McGuirl will play at least one more game at Bramlage Coliseum this season, a make-up game now scheduled for Mar. 6 against Iowa State, and might be back next season with an extra year of eligibility. That won’t change the lasting memory from his senior night.
“Man, this was special,” McGuirl said.