Three things we learned from Kansas State's 72-64 loss to Arkansas in the Hall of Fame Classic
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Arkansas punched Kansas State first, and it took the Wildcats nearly 30 minutes to dust themselves off and claw their way back in the game, albeit briefly, Monday night in the opening round of the Hall of Fame Classic.
Arkansas raced to an 18-point halftime advantage and K-State finally got it to single digits with 4 1/2 minutes left, but by that time it was too late as the No. 15-ranked Razorbacks held on for a 72-64 victory the T-Mobile Center.
With the loss, K-State (2-1) fell to Tuesday's consolation game against Illinois (2-2), a 71-51 first-round loser to Cincinnati. Arkansas (4-0) and Cincinnati (5-0) will meet for the championship at 8:30.
Here are three things we learned from K-State's first big test of the young season:
Not quite ready for primetime
The Wildcats were intimidated early by Arkansas' twin towers of 7-foot-3 Connor Vanover and 6-10 forward Jaylin Williams. The two big men combined for 15 points and eight rebounds in the first half and contested everything K-State tried inside.
The Wildcats finally found some success attacking the basket late in the game, but looked dazed and confused for the first 20 minutes.
Wildcats show some grit
After being thoroughly outplayed in the opening half, K-State at least proved to be resilient. Battling back and grinding through on a night when offense was hard to come by. The Wildcats missed all 10 of their first-half 3-point attempts and 13 straight before Luke Kasubke finally connected from the right corner with 12:15 left in the game.
K-State finished 3 of 22 from 3-point range.
The fact that they closed to within six points in the closing seconds was a testament to their refusal to throw in the towel.
A much-needed Mike McGuirl sighting
Super-senior guard Mike McGuirl, who struggled mightily in the Wildcats' first two games against lesser opponents Florida A&M and Omaha, showed signs that his brief slump is over, scoring nine points off the bench with four assists and four rebounds.
Nijel Pack and Selton Miguel led the Wildcats with 14 points each and Markquis Nowell had 10. Miguel also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
Vanover and Chris Lykes each scored 14 points for Arkansas, while Au'Diese Toney had 13 points and nine rebounds.