MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior Markquis Nowell continued his impressive play with a team-high 20 points and game-high 7 assists, as No. 11/13 Kansas State won its first game as a ranked team in nearly 4 seasons with a gritty 65-57 win over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night before a sold-out crowd of 11,000 at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State (15-1, 4-0 Big 12), which continued its best start to a season in more than 60 years, extended its winning streak to 9 games, which is the longest since a 10-game streak from Nov. 24, 2013, to Jan. 7, 2014. The team is also 4-0 to start Big 12 play for the first time since 2012-13.
As expected, the Wildcats took the best shot of a long and athletic Oklahoma State team, which leads the Big 12 in scoring defense (61.5) and ranks third nationally in field goal percentage defense (36.4), 14th in 3-point field goal percentage defense (28.4) and 17th in blocked shots (5.5 bpg.).
The Cowboys (9-7, 1-3 Big 12) rode that elite defense to much as a 5-point lead in the first half, including 32-30 at halftime. However, the Wildcats scored 5 of the first 7 points out of halftime to take the lead for good on a 3-pointer by junior Ish Massoud at 35-34 and force a timeout by head coach Mike Boynton, Jr., at the 17:17 mark.
K-State twice built a 10-point lead, including 51-41, with just over 10 minutes remaining to cap a 9-0 run and 56-46 after a layup by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin with just over 7 minutes remaining. However, OSU make a furious comeback with 9 straight points to cut the deficit to 56-55 right before the last media timeout with 3:10 to play.
The Wildcats were able to make key plays down the stretch to end the game on a 9-2 run, which included a highlight alley-oop dunk by senior Keyontae Johnson from Nowell with 38 seconds left. This 9-2 ending included a pair of free throws from senior Abayomi Iyiola and Nowell, the dunk by Johnson and 3 free throws from reserve senior Desi Sills.
Nowell was joined in double figures by Johnson, who kept his double-digit scoring streak alive at 16 games with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 2 assists, and Sills, who added 11 points on 3-of-8 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
After scoring 213 points in back-to-back wins over No. 6/6 Texas and No. 19/17 Baylor last week, including a school-record 116 vs. the Longhorns, K-State proved it can win in a variety of ways, including on defense. The Wildcats connected on a season-low 35.6 percent (21-of-59) from the field, including 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from 3-point range, but took advantage of 16 turnovers by the Cowboys to score 19 points.
Oklahoma State was held to its third-lowest point total (57) of the season on 33.3 percent (22-of-66) shooting, including 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from 3-point range. After connecting on 45.7 percent (14-of-31) in the first half to lead 32-30 at the break, the Cowboys made just 22.9 percent (8-of-35) of their field goals in the second half, including 14.3 percent (2-of-14) beyond the arc.
K-State, which has its highest ranking since checking also checking in at No. 11 right before the 2013 Big 12 Championship, won its first game as a ranked team since knocking off TCU, 70-61, in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship on March 14, 2019. The Wildcats are now 272-108 as a ranked team.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Markquis Nowell posted his fourth consecutive 20-point game, scoring a team-high 20 points on 6-of-12 field goals, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, and 3-of-3 free throws to go with a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 38 minutes.
Senior Keyontae Johnson continued his double-digit streak with 12 points on 5-of-11 field goals to go with 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 36 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME
19 – In a game in which both teams turned the ball over 16 times, it was K-State which took full advantage, converting those into 19 points compared to 10 by Oklahoma State.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On winning despite a different style of game…
“Well, you have to be able to. And we came off those other two games and people said we couldn’t play defense, but I mean, those two teams we played are really good offensively and the pace of the game, the number of possessions dictated that the score was going to be high. When you have good offensive teams, it doesn’t mean that you’re bad defensively. So, in this pace it dictated the score was going to be slower, but just because we didn’t score as much doesn’t mean that we’re bad offensively. In boxing they say style makes fights and this was just a different style.”
On Keyontae Johnson doing big things despite the scoring struggles…
“I gotta go watch the film. I thought he struggled in the first half, so we sat him a little bit just to let him gain his bearings. And then the second half, you know they’re good man. They’re really tough. They got quick hands, and they get their hands on a lot of balls. But I thought when we needed the big bucket both he and [Markquis] did some great things to help us.”
On if the offense was more patient tonight…
“That was the plan. Okay, I’m gonna have to go look at the film and see how well we did with that. What we didn’t want to do is take tough two’s because they were so good at contesting shots. We really wanted to get more paint touch kick outs for jump shots. And I don’t know that we were as efficient at that as we wanted to be. But I thought our toughness on defense, and we turned them over a few times. Cam Carter with that big defensive possession. I thought we did like really gritty things that are not pretty basketball plays that allowed us to win the game.”
Senior Keyontae Johnson
On his confidence in finding his own shots…
“Those shots are what I work on. Just trying different moves. I know different teams are going to have different scouts on me so just trying to find different moves to do and take practice shots as well. Those are shots I usually take.”
On interacting with the fans postgame…
“I feel like it’s a big thing. Just show how much we’re involved with the fans and the more we interact with them, the more they can respect us and come to the game and just show the support. So I feel like that’s our way of showing support to them and just thanking them going around. That’s the best thing we can do, take pictures and make their day, I mean they came out, pay for us. Just going out and just take a picture with the fans is a blessing and I think for Coach Tang to change that around is big time and just shows how much engagement he has with the fan base.”
Senior Markquis Nowell
On his lob to Keyontae Johnson…
“Yeah, I’d seen that they put two on the ball and the way that Nae’Qwan’s or Keyontae’s man was helping, he was little bit above him. So, I just figured throw it up to Key because I know he’ll catch it.”
On the team not scoring as many points tonight…
“You gotta give a lot of credit to them. You know, they defend well. They blocked, I don’t even know how many shots, a lot of shots and we know they are number one team defensively in conference. So, you got to give a lot of credit to them. They play hard. They got a lot of second chance points, which led them to stay in the game. But you know, we adjusted in the second half. We tried to not take too many tough two’s and look for the open man. And once we did that and things started rolling.”
On Desi Sills…
“He was big time tonight and just, he’s a confident player. He plays with energy, and we need that Desi every day. He’s starting to get clicking now, but when he’s rolling and he’s out there having fun, that’s when he’s at his best. He’s a big spark off our bench but he’s not a bench player and he plays like a starter and he accepts his role very well. I’m just so happy to see his production on the court. He’s like a brother to me, we just love him, and we just need that more every game.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- The 15-1 start continues the best since the 1958-59 Big Eight Championship team won 25 of its first 26 games before falling to Cincinnati in NCAA Midwest Regional Final at Allen Fieldhouse to finish 25-2.
- K-State’s winning streak is now 9 games, which is the longest since winning 10 in a row from Nov. 24, 2013, to Jan. 7, 2014.
- K-State is 4-0 in Big 12 play for the first time since 2012-13.
- K-State is now 9-0 in home games, including 8-0 at Bramlage Coliseum.
- K-State won as a ranked team for the first time since defeating TCU in the Big 12 Championship on March 14, 2019… The Wildcats are now 272-108 as a ranked team, including 7-5 as the No. 11 team.
- With the win, K-State eclipsed its entire win total (14) from the 2021-22 campaign.
- K-State now leads the all-time series with Oklahoma State, 84-58, including 42-18 at home and 15-12 at Bramlage Coliseum… It marks the second straight win at home in the series.
- K-State used a starting lineup of fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell, sophomore Cam Carter, fifth-year senior Keyontae Johnson, junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin and senior Abayomi Iyiola… It marked the fifth time in 16 games using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 38th start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their 16th starts in Wildcat uniforms and Iyiola his fifth… It was Johnson’s 71st start in college (other 55 at Florida), 69th for Iyiola (other 39 at Stetson and 25 at Hofstra), 20th for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State) and 15th for Tomlin (all at K-State).
- K-State scored its 65 points on a season-low 35.6 percent shooting (21-of-59), including 33.3 percent (9-of-27) from 3-point range, and connected on 73.7 percent (14-of-19) from free throw line.
- K-State had an assist on 15 of its 21 made field goals, including 4 players with 2 or more assists.
- K-State knocked down 9 3-pointers, including 3 players hitting on at least two treys.
- K-State held Oklahoma State to 57 points on 33.3 percent (22-of-66) from the field, including 22.7 percent (5-of-22) from 3-point range, while registering just 11 fouls.
- K-State had 16 turnovers, including allowing an opponent-high 11 steals, but Oklahoma State scored just 10 points off those miscues, while scoring 19 points off 16 OSU turnovers.
- Senior Tykei Greene took 2 charges, giving K-State 46 on the season.
- OSU led 32-30 at half behind 45.7 percent (14-of-31) shooting and 12 points from senior Kalib Boone…K-State connected on just 32.3 percent (10-of-31), including 6 points each from sophomore Cam Carter, senior Markquis Nowell and senior Desi Sills.
- K-State is now 5-1 when trailing at the half.
- Senior Markquis Nowell scored a team-high 20-points on 6-of-12 field goals, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, and went 3-of-3 from the free throw line, to go with a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals in 38 minutes… He now has 24 career 20-point games, including 8 at K-State… Overall, he has now scored in double figures in 80 career games, including 33 in his K-State career and 14 this season.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored 12 points on 5-of-11 field goals to go with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a block in 36 minutes… Johnson now 54 career double-digit scoring games, including all 16 games.
- Senior Desi Sills scored 11 points on 3-of-8 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws to go with 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 30 minutes off the bench… He has now scored in double figures in 57 career games, including 7 this season.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin had a productive night with a team-tying 7 rebounds to go with 6 points and game-tying 3 blocks in 31 minutes.
- Senior Abayomi Iyiola also had a team-tying 7 rebounds to go with 4 points, all from the line.
K-State returns to the Lone Star State on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats travel to Fort Worth, Texas to take on No. 17/17 TCU (13-2, 2-1 Big 12) at 1 p.m., CT at Schollmaier Arena. The game will air nationally on ESPN2.