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SLATE: Pack makes First Team All-Big 12

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Plus Mark Smith and Markquis Nowell also earn honors from the league, and BatCats pick up a couple wins over the weekend.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball

Saturday was hit and miss for Kansas State teams in competition.

In the early afternoon game, the MittieCats pulled ahead early, then held off a late charge from TCU to earn a 61-50 win in Fort Worth. The Cats, who head to KC this week at 19-11 and 9-9 in Big 12 play where they will face Texas in the 3/6 game on Friday at 7:30pm CST, re-found their stroke from deep and finished the game going 9-23 from outside (though take away the the 0-5 first period, and the Cats shot 50% from deep). Despite early foul trouble, Ayoka Lee also tied her (and K-State’s) single-season double-double record mark with 20 points and 11 rebounds for her 19th of the season. With her 11 rebounds, Lee joins Peyton Williams as the only two players in program history with 300 or more rebounds in two or more seasons as Lee increased her season total to 309. Lee is the only player in the nation with 675 or more points, 300 or more rebounds and 90 or more blocks.

But there was much less joy in Manhattan at Senior Day, as the Wildcats fell to Oklahoma in Bramlage for the first time in a decade, 78-71, despite incredible efforts from seniors Mike McGuirl and Mark Smith, who each eclipsed the 20-point mark and played nearly every minute of the game. Markquis Nowell missed his second-straight game with a leg injury, and Nijel Pack battled early and late foul trouble, forcing the two seniors to take on larger roles. (Of course, Nijel shouldn’t have been in late foul trouble, and Bruce should have earned himself a technical arguing that nonsense, but it’s a little late for that, apparently :eyeroll_emjoi:). Just seven Wildcats saw action in the season finale, and all seven scored, but it wasn’t enough to hold back the hot-shooting Sooners led by Umoja Gibson’s 29 points (his second-highest output of the season). On top of his 22 points — the fourth time he’s top 20 points this season, with the first coming with his season-high 25 in Norman — Mark Smith also nearly had another double-double, as he grabbed nine rebounds for nearly half of K-State’s team total. With the loss, the Cats fell to 14-16 and 6-12 in Big 12 play, effectively ending any chance at a post-season berth.

Next up. the Cats get to to take on West Virginia on Wednesday in Kansas City in the 8/9 game at 6pm CST. The winner of that game gets the glory of getting blown out by Kansas on Thursday at 2pm CST.

It wasn’t all bad news for the WeberCats this weekend, as the Big 12 Conference announced their All-Big 12 Teams. After leading his own team in nearly ever offensive category, as well as leading the Big 12 in both 3-point makes and percentage, Nijel Pack was named First Team by the leagues coaches, the first Wildcat since both Barry Brown and Dean Wade made the first team in 2019. Nijel was also named the leagues “Most Improved Player”, which almost feels like an insult considering we were pretty upset he got left off the conference’s All-Freshman team last year. But it wasn’t just Nijel, as Mark Smith was honored with a Third Team nod, as well as making the All-Newcomer team. And last, but certainly not least, Markquis Nowell received Honorable Mention, and was named to the All-Defensive Team.

Baseball

The BatCats finally found some offense this weekend, but were unable to complete the sweep of Loyola Marymount to cap their season-opening road trip.

On Friday the Cats opened with an 11-0 win to start off the series on the right foot. Blake Adams pitched 6 clean innings in his third start of the season, giving up just five hits and two walks to seven strikeouts while facing 25 batters, while his offense provided 8 runs to give Adams his first win of the season. The Cats had three batters with three hits in the game, and Dom Johnson, Dylan Phillips, and Cole Johnson each also had two RBI in the victory.

Saturday was more of the same, despite a late comeback effort from LMU in the 10-5 victory for the Wildcats. Connor McCollough also picked up his first win of the season in his third start, tossing 5 and 23 innings giving up just three hits and three runs while his offense put up seven runs during his stretch. The hits were a bit more spread out, with 6 Cats recording two or more hits, and seven recording RBIs.

But Sunday the bats couldn’t keep up, and LMU recorded five innings with crooked numbers to double-up the Cats 14-7. The Cats actually held an early lead, and were up 3-2 headed into the bottom of the 4th, where start Blake Corsentino was chased without recording an out after giving up three runs to lose the lead for good. His replacement Tyler Ruhl gave up four more runs over the next two innings to push the LMU lead to 9-3. The Cats were able to get four runs back in the 7th thanks in large part to a 3-RBI double from Dom Johnson, but Christian Ruebeck gave up 5 more runs across the 7th and 8th to seal the victory for the Lions.

K-State, now 3-7 on the season, finally returns to Manhattan for their first home contest, and will face Nebraska in Tointon Family Stadium at 6pm CST, in a game that can be seen on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ if you are unable to make it out to the game.

Tennis

The Wildcats tennis squad split their double header this weekend, taking a 4-3 victory over Iowa on Friday, their first time playing outdoors at Mike Goss Tennis Stadium this season, before falling 4-2 to No. 42 Northwestern on Saturday.

The Wildcats star Karine-Marion Job (No. 96) helped pick up the first doubles victory for the Cats on their way to earning the doubles point, and took her singles match in straight sets for the first singles point of the day to help spur the Wildcats to victory. On Saturday, the Cats couldn’t secure the doubles point, and couldn’t pick up enough in the singles matches to make their comeback complete while falling for just the second time at home in 2022.

Next up, the 6-4 Wildcats head to Stillwater at the end of the week for their first bout of Big 12 play this year, and will play Oklahoma State beginning at 5pm CST.