Xavier Sneed scored 19 points, including the game-winner with 28 seconds to play in overtime, and Kansas State defeated UNLV 60-56 on Saturday.
Mike McGuirl and Sneed each drained two free throws down the stretch for the Wildcats to put the game out of reach.
Cartier Diarra had 12 points and six assists for Kansas State.
Montavious Murphy gave Kansas State a 54-52 lead with 1:10 left in overtime when he drove the baseline, drew a foul and converted the free throw.
But UNLV’s Amauri Hardy answered by dribbling around and through a pair of Kansas State defenders to hit a short jumper and tie the game at 54-54 with 44.2 seconds left.
But Sneed dropped in a mid-range jumper from the baseline to give K-State a 56-54 lead over UNLV with 28 seconds to play.
“He’s our senior, he’s our go-to guy, obviously he has the most points, he guards the best players,” K-State head coach Bruce Weber said of Sneed. “He came back and he was huge.”
The Wildcats overcame a poor shooting night, as they were just 22 of 59 (37.3 percent) from the floor, to erase a double-digit first-half deficit.
“We had a tough shooting night in the first half, got it going, got some good, big time buckets from everybody,” Sneed said.
Hardy led UNLV with 27 points, while Elijah Mitrou-Long chipped in 10 points and Cheikh Mbacke Diong had four points and 11 rebounds.
The Runnin’ Rebels seized control of the momentum in the first half after falling behind 4-0 early, using a 14-0 run to open a 10-point lead. Hardy led the charge with UNLV’s first 10 points of the game, including a pair from behind the 3-point line.
Outside of Hardy’s outburst for UNLV, neither team was impressive offensively, often showing signs of sloppiness to the tune of 23 first-half turnovers combined.
But the Wildcats took advantage of UNLV’s miscues and stormed back with runs of 6-0 and 12-4 to get within two, at 18-16. But it was UNLV’s domination on the boards that helped it close the half with the last two buckets, including Hardy’s third three-pointer to that point, giving the Rebels a 23-16 lead at the half.
UNLV coach T.J. Otzelberger was looking for his players to match Kansas State’s physicality with an aggressive approach in the second half, knowing the defending Big 12 champions liked to pressure the ball and disrupt offensive rhythm the length of the court while forcing teams into tough shots. The much bigger Wildcats outscored UNLV 44-33 in the second half and overtime.
The Wildcats are coming off a 25-win campaign in which they shared the Big 12 regular season title. And while they were 7-5 in true road games last season, they were 0-3 vs. non-conference foes. Weber said he wanted to schedule a true road game early in the season so his young team could “grow up fast.”
Kansas State is set to play host to Monmouth on Wednesday.