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Wildcats sloppy in return from break; survive over Omaha, 60-58

Selton Miguel shakes off poor shooting night to hit game-winning bucket.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Saint Louis
Mike McGuirl led K-State with 13 points and six assists against Omaha. It was just enough.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

If tonight’s game in Bramlage were art, it would be of the macaroni on construction paper variety. Probably would not hang on the refrigerator for long, either.

In a game of huge runs by both teams that turned into a see-saw affair late, Selton Miguel erased a one-point deficit with a three-point bucket from the left corner to lift K-State (5-5, 1-1 Big 12) to a 60-58 victory over the Omaha Mavericks (2-8) Tuesday evening. Miguel’s clutch bucket was only his third make of the evening, on 14 attempts.

Shooting was streaky for both teams, which contributed to several runs that had each looking as if it might pull away more than once in the game. K-State led 10-5 before a 21-5 Omaha run gave the Mavericks a 26-15 advantage with six minutes remaining in the first half. The Cats would outscore Omaha 17-5 over the last 5:40, though, to take an improbable 32-30 lead at the half. Most of the scoring in the run came from freshman post Carlton Linguard Jr., who scored all 7 of his points in the first half, and Mike McGuirl, who connected on a three-pointer during the run and threw down a two-handed slam for the period’s last points.

After the break, K-State stretched its lead to 8, 45-37, before going scoreless for nearly five minutes and allowing Omaha to even the score at 45-all. The teams exchanged the lead nine times in the final 10:01, with the last lead change coming on Miguel’s winning bucket with nine seconds to play. Omaha’s Sam’i Roe got a good look at a three-point attempt that would have won the game, but it came up just short.

Where did the Cats win? They out-rebounded the Mavericks 39-35 and outscored them in the paint, 22-14. K-State also had 11 steals, to Omaha’s 2.

How did they almost lose? Shooting was the issue. The Cats finished 24-62 (38.7%), and 8-31 (25.8%) from three-point range. Here are shooting stats for a handful of players: McGuirl 5-13 (2-9 from three), Miguel 3-14 (3-8), Pack 4-11 (1-6), Williams 3-11 (1-5).

Capping off the shooting woes (and failing to attack the basket to create opportunities), the Wildcats were only 4-8 at the free throw line.

Omaha was not much better, making 20 of 50 shots (40%) overall. But they hit 8 of 19 (42.1%) from outside. They also got to the line nine more times than K-State, but connected on only 10 of 17 (58.8%). The Mavs have to be kicking themselves. They even missed on of the free tosses awarded for Coach Weber’s technical foul. Opportunity...lost.

McGuirl (11) and Miguel (11) were the only Wildcats in double figures. Though Nijel Pack finished with only 9, he hit three clutch buckets down the stretch, when the game teetered in back-and-forth mode. Three other Wildcats (Davion Bradford, Rudi Williams and Linguard) scored 7 apiece, and both Braford and DaJuan Gordon had 10 rebounds. Gordon also had five assists and three steals.

K-State finished with 16 assists on their 24 buckets. After losing the ball nine times in the first half, the Wildcats finished the game with a total of 12 turnovers.

Omaha scoring was led by Ayo Akinwole, who had a season-high 19, and Roe, who finished with 12.

Three in the Key

  1. Some know-it-all type guy this morning wrote this:

What should we expect? A loss would obviously be DoublePlusUngood. The young Wildcats seem to be finding some rhythm and chemistry of late. If the team can pick up where it left off before the break, this should be a comfortable win. Sloppy play could keep it close or (heaven forbid) lead to a loss that would portend a dark future with TCU, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State up next on the schedule.

So, we avoided DoublePlusUngood. But only barely. Call it garden variety Ungood. Bruce needs to get the guys back in the gym and clean up a multitude of problems. One of them, undoubtedly, is guarding the arc. TCU, Kansas, Baylor and many other Big 12 teams will feast on ball reversal and over-helping. Guys need to work on the shooting touch, too. 8-31 from three? Ewww.

2. For undisclosed reasons, Antonio Gordon was not available tonight and will apparently be out for awhile. Extrapolating what the times and world conditions suggest could allow us to guess at the problem. But we won’t. K-State certainly missed his energy tonight and was forced to play smaller than it wanted to, at times. Let’s hope Montavious Murphy is able to go Saturday. McGuirl played 39 minutes tonight. Miguel played 35, and DaJuan played 32. Eight scholarship players against the rigors of the Big 12 would grind this squad down in a hurry.

3. A win is a win, right? Well, it feels better than the Fort Hays outcome, for sure. But terrible shot selection and even worse accuracy, along with failing to hold down a team that came in shooting poorly from outside, seems like regression. The Cats must continue to get better. And they must play better to be competitive in the coming weeks.

Next up: TCU visits at 1:00 Saturday, January 2. Broadcast will be on ESPNU.