AUSTIN — The first step for the Kansas State men's basketball team came last Saturday, when the Wildcats finally broke out of their Big 12 funk with an upset on No. 19-ranked Texas Tech.
On Tuesday night, they got one for the road.
After erasing a nine-point first-half deficit and then trailing again by five points with 3 1/2 minutes left, the Wildcats went with a five-guard lineup to score the game's last six points and walk away with a 66-65 victory over No. 22 Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.
"I'm just thrilled for our guys," K-State coach Bruce Weber said after his resilient Wildcats pushed their record to 10-7 overall, 2-4 in the Big 12, and secured a season split with the Longhorns. "It was a great team win."
Mark Smith came up big for the Wildcats, keeping them in the game early on the way to a 22-point, eight-rebound performance. Then, after Timmy Allen put Texas up 65-60 with 3:30 left, it was point guards Nijel Pack and Markquis Nowell — not to mention some tenacious defense — who finished the job.
First Pack hit a long jumper to cut it to three. Then at the 1:56 mark, Nowell knocked down a pair of free throws. Texas' Andrew Jones missed a step-back jumper and Selton Miguel corralled the rebound, setting up a nifty finish between Nowell and Pack for what proved to be the winner with 1:13 to go.
Nowell, who was limited to 23 1/2 minutes by foul trouble, drove to the right baseline and flipped the ball back to a cutting Pack for the layup. After a Texas timeout, Courtney Ramey missed a jumper, Miguel rebounded again and Nowell missed a driving layup at 12 seconds.
That set up a final defensive stop as Marcus Carr missed near the lane on the right side with Pack in his face. Smith grabbed the rebound and the Wildcats celebrated.
In addition to Smith, K-State got 16 points from Pack and 13 from Mike McGuirl, who recorded his second straight double-figure game since returning from COVID-19 protocols.
Nowell had three of the Wildcats' seven assists and Miguel five rebounds, while also guarding Texas' Carr down the stretch. Carr led all scorers with 25 points and Allen had 15 for the Longhorns, who fell to 13-5, 3-3, with their second straight loss.
It was also Texas' first home loss in 12 games.
Things don't get easier for K-State, which plays host to No. 7 Kansas — the Wildcats' third-straight ranked opponent — at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Sunflower Showdown.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas State basketball edges Texas for first Big 12 road victory