Defense and Selton Miguel's 3-pointer lift K-State past Omaha, 60-58
MANHATTAN — Bruce Weber has always enjoyed a good Christmas movie.
He couldn't have designed a merrier ending than the one that played out Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
"Obviously it's time for giving and I love Christmas," Weber said after Omaha missed a last-second 3-point attempt to preserve Kansas State's 60-58 victory. "I'm kind of old school — watch AMC movies and Hallmark and wrap presents and play Santa and give them to my grandkids.
"I don't expect much, but definitely got a nice Christmas gift tonight with a tough, hard-fought win. I'm not sure we deserved the win, but we made some plays when it counted, got some stops when it counted."
With the victory, K-State closed out 2020 at 5-5 after a 1-4 start. Omaha fell to 2-8.
No play was bigger for the Wildcats than freshman Selton Miguel's corner 3-pointer with 9.6 seconds left after Ayo Akinwole had hit a pair of free throws to put Omaha up by a point. But K-State also locked down defensively, limiting the Mavericks to those two foul shots over the final three-plus minutes.
Omaha still had a shot at the upset, but Sam'i Roe's 3-pointer from the left corner was too strong and bounced harmlessly into the hands of Mike McGuirl as the buzzer sounded.
It was redemption of sorts for Miguel, who made just two of his previous 13 shots and also missed a crucial one-and-one opportunity at 24.5 seconds that could have extended the Wildcats' tenuous 57-56 advantage.
"Coach Weber was saying, 'Keep shooting, keep shooting,' because we missed a lot of threes and he kept motivating us," Miguel said.
In a game of wild momentum swings, there were three ties in the final 5 1/2 minutes, the last one when K-State freshman Nijel Pack buried a jumper with 2:09 left to make it 56-all.
It was the second straight basket for Pack, who then got a steal, but missed a 3-pointer for the lead. The Wildcats got another defensive stop, forcing a 30-second violation at the 1:03 mark, and with 47.3 seconds on the clock Davion Bradford gave them their first lead of the last six minutes by hitting the second of two free throws.
Another turnover — Omaha's third in the last two minutes — led to Miguel's missed free throw.
McGuirl, who also found Miguel for the winning shot to give him six assists, led the Wildcats with 13 points. Miguel had 11 on 3 of 14 shooting, and Pack added nine points. The Wildcats also got 10 rebounds each from Gordon and Bradford, who contributed seven points.
Akinwole led all scorers with 19 points for Omaha, whole Roe had 12. Senior forward Matt Pile, a former Goddard Eisenhower High School standout, had five points and five rebounds.
K-State trailed by 11 with 4:54 left in the first half, leading Weber to call his second timeout. The Wildcats outscored Omaha 14-1 the rest of the period to go up 32-30 at the break.
Omaha missed its last seven shots of the half, managing just a Pile free throw at 40.9 seconds to tie it at 30. McGuirl then gave the Wildcats the lead on a hard drive and two-handed dunk from the right wing at the 21-second mark.
In a half of wild momentum swings, K-State scored eight straight points to lead 10-5 on a McGuirl free throw with 13:50 left, only to see Omaha answer with a 15-3 spurt. The Mavericks then got back-to-back 3-pointers from Akinwole and Roe for a 26-15 advantage at the 5:59 mark.
After another Roe three put the Mavericks up 29-18, Weber called time and the tide turned again. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Carlton Linguard and Williams keyed a 12-point Wildcat run culminating with a Linguard layup off a McGuirl lob pass.