Colorado pulls away late for 76-58 victory over K-State

Staff Writer
Salina Journal
Kansas State point guard Nijel Pack drives against Colorado's McKinley during Friday night's game at Bramlage Coliseum.

MANHATTAN — The Kansas State Wildcats came up empty in their inaugural Little Apple Classic, but it wasn't all bad.

Two days after stumbling through a 10-point loss to Drake in the opener, the Wildcats looked sharper and gave Colorado an early scare before the Buffaloes pulled away for a 76-58 victory Friday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

Again it was a veteran point guard that did K-State in as Colorado's McKinley Wright masterfully directed the Colorado offense with 24 points, five assists and five rebounds. The Buffaloes (2-0) also got 10 points from Maddox Daniels and nine points plus a team-high six points from Jeriah Horne off the bench.

Nijel Pack, who was limited to nine minutes in the first half with an injury, came back to lead K-State (2-0) with 12 points. Mike McGuirl had eight points and five assists, with Kaosi Ezeagu also scoring eight points and DaJuan Gordon grabbing seven rebounds.

Colorado shot 55.2% in the second half, outrebounded K-State 18-12 in the period and turned the ball over just once after the break. K-State, which shot better than 50% in the first half, dipped to 36.2 in the second period.

K-State led 31-30 at halftime, but Colorado scored the first seven points of the second period and never trailed again. A Wright basket put the Buffs up 37-31, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Pack and McGuirl tied it with 16:37 left. The Buffaloes then answered with a 7-2 spurt to go back in front, 44-39.

That was followed by an 11-point run that pushed the lead to 62-46 on Eli Parquet's three-point play at the 7:46 mark. K-State never got it to single digits the rest of the way.

After squandering a 13-point lead in the matter of minutes, K-State came back to score the last four points of the half to lead by one at the break.

The Wildcats were on fire early, and reeled off 12 straight points to lead 22-9 on Rudi Williams' floater in the lane with 9:35 to go in the half. That's when the bottom fell out.

It started with Davion Bradford whistled for a flagrant foul that led to a six-point possession for Colorado. Before McGuirl's 3-pointer stopped the bleeding at the 4:20 mark, the Buffs had scored 14 straight.

K-State turned the ball over five straight times, including four offensive fouls in a row, during the stretch. The Wildcats shot 54.5% in the half, including 6 of 13 from 3-point range, but turned the ball over 13 times and were outscored from the free-throw line, 7-1.

Pack, who did not play the last 9:56 of the half after running into a screen, still led the Wildcats at the break with six. Williams added five off the bench.

For Colorado, which shot 41.7 percent in the half, Wright had nine points and three assists and Dallas Walton scored seven.

K-State starting center Kaosi Ezeagu, who scored the Wildcats' first four points, played just nine minutes in the half after picking up his second foul.