The No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats blasted Florida on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum 64-50, improving their record to (18-3, 6-2) on the season.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 11-3 lead with Cam Carter converting on a couple of buckets at the rim. From that point, K-State never looked back. The Wildcats expanded their first-half lead to 22-8 when David N’Guessan — making his first start since the K-State win over Radford on Dec. 21 — slammed home a dunk to put the Wildcats on a 7-0 run with 8:11 left in the first half.
N’Guessan — who returned from a foot/ankle injury a week ago but didn’t play in K-State’s loss vs. Iowa State on Tuesday — finished the game with ______ points, including 7 of their first 22 points to start the game. N’Guessan walked to the bench with a bit of a limp with 16:03 left in the second half, but he later returned to action with 11:50 left in the game.
K-State had another extended run in the final 3:13 of the first half to end the first 20 minutes on an 11-run. Forward Nae’Qwan Tomlin had a layup and a pair of free throws in the final 1:18 of the half.
Point guard Markquis Nowell had eight assists in the first half, equaling his per-game average. Nowell contributed eight of K-State’s 11 assists in the first half on 14 made baskets.
Despite holding a 19-point lead at halftime, no WIldcats was in double figures in scoring in the first half, though N’Geussan and Tomlin both had nine first-half points.
Playing against his former team, Florida transfer Keyotnae Johnson finished the game with 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, which falls one short of his season-high 12 rebounds in the K-State loss at Butler in Nov.
The Gators had an early 8-0 run in the second half to cut Kansas State’s 35-16 halftime lead to 37-24, forcing first-year Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang to call a timeout.
Johnson put the Wildcats back up 13 points when he his a turnaround fade in the paint for his sixth point of the game. He then drew a blocking call on Florida’s Myreon Jones before going to the line to make a pair of free throws for the shooting foul. The free throws put K-State up 43-30 with about 13:30 left in the second half.
The Gator offense then went cold scoring only eight points from the 13:30 mark to the 3:50 mark of the second half. Within that near 10-minute stretch, Florida went without a field goal for more than seven minutes, which was ended with a Colin Castleton bucket in the paint to make it a 60-40 game.
Florida was never able to get the K-Stat lead below 10 points in the second half and Kansas State cruised to a sound victory over the Gators at Bramalge Coliseum.
With the loss, Florida falls to 12-9 on the season, including a 5-3 record in the SEC.
STAR OF THE GAME
Nowell continued his elite play on Saturday in K-State’s win. The senior point guard ended the game with 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, falling just short of the first triple-double in Kansas State basketball history. The nine rebounds are the most Nowell has had in a game since the nine rebounds he recorded in Nov. 2020 when Nowell played for Little Rock.
The Kansas State point guard was named a midseason second-team All-American by the Athletic this week. Nowell is averaging close to a career-high in points this season (17.1), a career-high in assists (8.3) and shooting 38.5 percent from the 3-point line this season.
Kansas resumes Big 12 play on Tuesday when they play at Kansas. The Wildcats beat the Jayhawks on Jan. 17 in overtime at Bramlage Coliseum. Kansas has lost three straight games entering Saturday’s game at Kentucky.
The Wildcats have not won at Kansas since 2006 when the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks 59-55. Kansas State’s leading scorer in that game was Clent Steward who had 15 points.