MANHATTAN, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – Senior Markquis Nowell shook off a subpar shooting night to score the game’s last 6 points, including a pivotal 3-pointer with 54 seconds, to help lift Kansas State to a 55-50 win over in-state Wichita State on Saturday night before a season-best crowd of 8,957 fans at Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State (7-1) rebounded from its first loss of the season at Butler on Nov. 30 to earn its fourth straight win over its in-state rival in the first meeting between the schools at Bramlage Coliseum since 2003. The 7-1 start is the best by the Wildcats since opening the 2017-18 season with a similar 7-1 record.
Although he had an off-shooting night, going 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-6 from 3-point range, Nowell had a stellar all-around night for the Wildcats, adding a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals to his 11 points. He was joined in double figures by fellow senior Keyontae Johnson, who led all scorers with 17 points, and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who kept the team in the game early with 12 of his 14 points coming in the first half.
It marked the second year in a row Nowell proved to be difference in a win against Wichita State. Last season, he scored 5 of his team-high 16 points in a late 7-0 run, including a dagger of a 3-pointer with 1:35 to play, that helped the Wildcats to a 65-59 win over the Shockers at INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita.
Nowell’s heroics helped spark a late rally by K-State, which trailed for more than 30 minutes and appeared to be heading for a loss until senior Desi Sills made perhaps the biggest play of the night with his block of Shammah Scott’s breakaway layup with 1:42 to play with the Wildcats trailing 50-49.
Nowell tied the game with a free throw with 1:32 remaining then forced a steal of senior Craig Porter, Jr., to set up his winning 3-pointer with 54 seconds. After his triple gave the Wildcats a 53-50 lead, he forced another bad pass on the next possession before knocking down the game-clinching free throws for the final margin of victory.
K-State had a season-low offense night across the board, scoring a season-low 55 points on 35.8 percent (19-of-53) shooting, including 20 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range. The Big 12’s best free throw shooting team also had an off night from the line, hitting on a season-low 61.9 percent (13-of-21).
It was a tale of two halves for Wichita State (4-4), which led by as many as 7 points in the first half on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) shooting before scoring just 18 points in the second half on a mere 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting. The Shockers had just 5 assists on its 19 made field goals with 16 turnovers.
Senior Craig Porter, Jr., was the only Shocker to reach double figures with 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 35 minutes. Junior teammate Jaykwon Walton had a near double-double with 9 points and 9 rebounds in just 20 minutes.
K-State now leads the all-time series, 22-11, including 15-2 at home.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The game started with alternating runs, as Kansas State opened with 6 straight points, including 4 from junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, before Wichita State answered with an 11-0 run. The Shockers maintained the lead until a jumper by senior Keyontae Johnson tied the game at 17-all with 11:41 before halftime.
WSU was able to regain the lead on a free throw on the next possession, in a stretch in which the Shockers scored 9 of the next 11 points to take a 26-19 advantage with 6:32 remaining in the half. K-State was able to cut the deficit to 26-23 with 4 straight points, but again WSU used a 6-2 spurt to push ahead at 32-25. A pair of free throws by junior David N’Guessan and a dunk by Tomlin finished off the scoring at the half, as the Wildcats got to within 32-29 at the break despite shooting just 34.5 percent (10-of-29) from the field.
The Shockers maintained the lead in the early going, pushing ahead 38-33 on back-to-back buckets right before the first media timeout. A corner 3-pointer by sophomore Cam Carter brought the Wildcats into a one possession game at 42-39, but Gus Okafor hit a wild triple with the shot clock expiring to push the lead back out to 45-39.
Three consecutive buckets by Johnson tied the score at 45-all, forcing head coach Isaac Brown to call a timeout with 6:10 remaining. Johnson took the Wildcats’ fifth charge on the next possession that allowed K-State to take its first lead since the early moments of the first half on a layup by Tomlin with 5:32 to play.
Senior Markquis Nowell gave K-State a 49-46 lead on his first field goal of the game right before the final media timeout with 2:57 to play. However, WSU got a pair of free throws from Quincy Ballard and a pull-up from leading scorer Craig Porter, Jr. to go ahead 50-49 with 2:13 remaining.
Nowell made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 50-all then forced a turnover by Porter to set up the decisive 3-pointer with 54 seconds left. He forced a bad pass for his third steal of the night then added a pair of free throws with 1.5 seconds for the final margin of victory, 55-50.
PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Senior Markquis Nowell enjoyed a solid all-around night, dishing out a game-high 7 assists, grabbing 5 rebounds and recording 3 steals to go with his 11 points in 37 minutes.
Senior Keyontae Johnson once again led the Wildcats in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-14 field goals and 3-of-6 free throws to go with 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 30 minutes. He led the Wildcats in scoring in 4 games and has recorded double figures in all 8 games.
STAT OF THE GAME
18/25.9 – K-State held Wichita State to just 18 second-half points on 25.9 percent (7-of-27) shooting after allowing 32 points in the first half on 54.5 percent (12-of-22) shooting.
IN THEIR WORDS
Head coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“Yeah, we were deeply inspired by our football team’s defensive stand on the goal line and decided we want to make this a defensive game, and don’t worry about making shots tonight. I thought our guys in the second half did a really good job of guarding and rebounding. I think I need to have (quarterback) Will Howard come in and let them know that they have some offense too, so maybe we’ll have some better offense against them.”
On a message to the team throughout the game…
“Just keep grinding, keep grinding. Yes, you know, I mean, shots they’re gonna go in at some point in time, you know, but if we kept defending and we kept attacking the paint, I thought every time we got to a paint something good would happen, and we didn’t need to settle for shots. I know they will open shots, but that’s exactly what they wanted us to do. We needed to impose our will on them and keep attacking the paint.”
Senior Markquis Nowell
On the resilience of this team this season…
“We have a great group of guys who are from all different areas. We got Louisiana, we got Norfolk, we got guys from New York, so we’re just hungry and we’re determined to win. You know, every guy on his team puts himself last and puts the team first. So, you know, that’s just our motto. Just put yourself last and put the team first and just play to win. And that’s how we’ve been since the start of season.”
On the last minute game winning shot…
“Man, I was happy to see one go in first and foremost. I mean, but you know, they left me open. And I just felt that it was a rhythm. That I should take it and then it went in. But I feel like our team really locked in the last seven minutes of the game. We got some key rebounds, got some key stops, and that’s what really helped us get this victory.”
On what they will take from this win to the next game …
“Yeah, we’ll definitely look at the second half and figure out how we can do that in the first half, because we started off slow again. But you know we just got to keep learning and keep growing. And I’m pretty sure that we will do that, and I believe. Our coaching staff will prepare us for the next one so that we could be better than that next time.”
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
- K-State’s 7-1 start is the best since also opening the 2017-18 season at 7-1.
- K-State is now 124-14 in home venues in non-conference play since 2006-07, including 115-12 at Bramlage Coliseum… It was just the Wildcats’ third home game of the season.
- K-State is now 22-11 all-time against Wichita State, including 15-2 at home and 7-2 at Bramlage Coliseum… The Wildcats have now won 4 straight in the series.
- K-State is now 42-36 all-time vs. the AAC, including 25-7 at home.
- 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 junior David N’Guessan… It marked the seventh time in 8 games using this lineup.
- Nowell made his 29th start at K-State, while Carter, Johnson and Tomlin all made their eighth starts in Wildcat uniforms and N’Guessan his seventh… It was Johnson’s 63rd start in college (other 55 at Florida), the 12th for Carter (other 4 at Mississippi State), seventh by N’Guessan (all at K-State), while Tomlin made his eighth Division I start (all at K-State).
- K-State scored a season-low 55 points on 35.8 percent shooting (19-of-53), including just 20 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range, and connected on a season-low 61.9 percent (13-of-21) from the free throw line.
- K-State had an assist on 13 of its 19 made field goals and had a season-low 8 turnovers… In contrast, WSU had just 5 assists on its 19 made field goals and were forced into 16 turnovers.
- K-State scored 17 points off those 16 turnovers and have now posted at least 12 points off turnovers in all 7 games while forcing 144 turnovers (18.0 per game).
- K-State had 8 steals on the night and have at least 8 steals in 6 of 8 games this season.
- WSU held the advantage on the glass, 38-33, including 30 defensive rebounds… Although K-State gave up 8 offensive rebounds the Wildcats allowed just 2 second-chance points.
- WSU led 32-29 at halftime on the strength of 54.5 percent (12-of-22) shooting, including 37.5 percent (3-of-8) from 3-point range… The Wildcats connected on 34.5 percent (10-of-27), including just 18.2 percent (2-of-11) from long range… Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin led all scorers with 12 points.
- It was the fourth straight game facing a deficit at the half.
- Senior Keyontae Johnson scored a team-high 17 points on 7-of-14 field goals and 3-of-6 free throws to go with 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 30 minutes… It marked his fourth time in 8 games leading the team in scoring… He now has 46 career double-digit scoring games, including all 8 this season.
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin scored 14 points on 5-of-12 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 2-of-4 free throws to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 33 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 4 games this season.
- Senior Markquis Nowell scored 11 points on 2-of-9 field goals, including 1-of-6 from 3-point range, and 6-of-9 free throws to go with a game-high 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in 37 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 72 career games, including 25 in his K-State career and 6 this season.
- Nowell has 62 assists (7.8 apg.) through 8 games with 18 turnovers.
- Junior David N’Guessan scored 8 points and tied for the team-high with 6 rebounds to go with 1 assist and 1 steal in 26 minutes… He has 8 or more points in 4 of the last 5 games.
- Although scoreless, senior Desi Sills had a strong all-around night with 4 assists, 3 rebounds and a block in 28 minutes off the bench.
K-State continues its homestand on Tuesday, Dec. 6 when the Wildcats play host to Abilene Christian (4-5) at 7 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased online at kstatesports.com/tickets, by calling (800) 221.CATS or visiting the K-State Athletics Ticket Office in Bramlage Coliseum.