15/13 [3-seed] KANSAS STATE (25-9, 11-7 Big 12) vs. [7-seed] MICHIGAN STATE (21-12, 11-8 Big Ten)
NCAA East Regional Semifinals
Thursday, March 23, 2023 >> 5:30 p.m. CT >> Madison Square Garden (19,812) >> New York, N.Y.
TBS / March Madness App (link here)
- Brian Anderson (play-by-play)
- Jim Jackson (analyst)
- Allie LaForce (sideline reporter)
- Tom Heitz (producer)
Westwood One [link here]
Satellite Radio: Sirius XM Ch. 134 or 202
- Gary Cohen (play-by-play)
- Jon Crispin (analyst)
K-State Sports Network
Flagships: // KMAN 1350 & WIBW 580
Online: Varsity Network [free]/ www.kstatesports.com/watch [free]
- Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play)
- Stan Weber (analyst)
K-State: Jerome Tang [Charter Oak State College ’07]
Record at K-State: 25-9/1st Year
Career Record: 27-9/1st Year+
vs. Michigan State: 0-0 [0-0 at K-State]
Michigan State: Tom Izzo [Northern Michigan ’77]
Record at Michigan State: 687-278/28th Year
Career Record: 687-278/28th Year
vs. K-State: 2-0 [2-0 at Michigan State]
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
NCAA Tournament [appearance/last]: 38-35 [32nd/2019]
East Regional [appearance/last]: 4-4 [5th/2012]
Second Round [East Regional]: 7-5 [1-0]
In Greensboro, N.C./Greensboro Coliseum: 1-1/1-1
As No. 3 seed [appearance]: 1-0 [1st]
vs. No. 6 seed [appearance]: 0-2 [3rd]
NCAA Tournament [appearance/last]: 39-35 [32nd/2019]
East Regional [appearance/last]: 5-4 [5th/2012]
Regional Semifinals [East Regional]: 13-5 [1-0]
In New York, N.Y./Madison Square Garden: 0-0/0-0
As No. 3 seed [appearance]: 2-0 [1st]
vs. No. 7 seed [appearance]: 1-1 [3rd]
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP (Based off the last game)
15/13 Kansas State (25-9, 11-7 Big 12)
G: #1 Markquis Nowell
G: #5 Cam Carter
G: #13 Desi Sills
F: #11 Keyontae Johnson
F: #35 Nae’Qwan Tomlin
Michigan State (21-12, 11-8 Big Ten)
G: #11 A.J. Hoggard
G: #2 Tyson Walker
G: #3 Jaden Akins
F: #10 Joey Hauser
C: #22 Mady Sissoko
No. 15/13 K-State (25-9, 11-7 Big 12) will make its 18th trip to the Sweet 16 and the first since 2018 when the 3-seed Wildcats meet 7-seed Michigan State (21-12, 11-8 Big Ten) in the first game of the East Regional Semifinals at 5:30 p.m., CT on Thursday night at the World’s Most Famous Arena – Madison Square Garden – in New York City. The game will air on TBS with Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Jim Jackson (analyst) and Allie LaForce (reporter) on the call. The winner will advance to play either No. 4 seed Tennessee (25-10, 11-7 SEC) or No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic (33-3, 18-2 C-USA) on Saturday in the East Regional Final for a trip to the Final Four.
- K-State earned its way to the Sweet 16 with impressive wins over 14-seed Montana State (77-65) on March 17 and 6-seed Kentucky (75-69) on March 19 at the East Regional First/Second Rounds at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C. The Wildcats hit on 58.2 percent (32-of-55) from the field, including 65.4 percent (17-of-26) in the second half, to knock off the Bobcats. They used a late second-half 8-0 run, keyed by 3-pointers from junior Ismael Massoud and senior Keyontae Johnson, to defeat the Wildcats for the second consecutive meeting.
- National Coach of the Year finalist Jerome Tang is the first K-State head coach to guide his team to the Sweet 16 in his first season, while posting just the eighth 25-win season in school history and the first since 2017-18. His 25 wins tie for the second-most by a first-time Division I coach this season, trailing just Duke’s Jon Scheyer (27-9).
- Seniors Markquis Nowell (44 points) and Keyontae Johnson (31 points) combined for 75 of the Wildcats’ 152 points in the wins over Montana State and Kentucky. It was right on average for the duo, who are averaging 34.6 points per game to rank fourth among power conferences. They have been named to several All-America Teams, including Third Team by The Associated Press, while both are finalists for the Bob Cousy and Julius Erving Awards.
- Nowell has had a spectacular start to the NCAA Tournament, combining for 44 points and 23 rebounds in the wins over Montana State (17 points, 14 assists) and Kentucky (27 points, 9 assists). He is one of 2 players since 1990, along with Murray State’s Ja Morant, to combine for 40 points and 20 assists before the Sweet 16. He collected his eighth double-double this season vs. Montana State, while tying for the ninth-most assists in an NCAA Tournament. His 27 points vs. Kentucky were the most by a Wildcat in the NCAA Tournament since 2012.
- Nowell ranks among the top-20 nationally in 7 categories, including second in assists/game (7.8 apg.) and third in total assists (266), while he ranks first in the Big 12 in an astounding 8 categories.
- Johnson is the comeback story of the year in sports after arriving at K-State in August having not played basketball in nearly 2 seasons since his medical emergency while playing at Florida on Dec. 12, 2020. He has led the Wildcats in both scoring (17.5 ppg.) and rebounding (7.0 rpg.) while scoring in double figures in 33 of 34 games with 9 20-point games and 6 double-doubles. He paced the team in both scoring (18) and rebounding (8) vs. Montana State.
NOTES ON MICHIGAN STATE
- Michigan State (21-12, 11-8 Big Ten) enters the matchup on Thursday with victories in 7 of the last 10 games, including wins over 10-seed USC (72-62) and 2-seed Marquette (69-60) to open NCAA Tournament play. This stretch has come after winning just 2 in a 7-game span in the middle of Big Ten play.
- Michigan State is making its 36th trip to the NCAA Tournament, including its 25th consecutive appearance. The Spartans are making their 21st Sweet 16 appearance, including their 15th under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo.
- Michigan State is averaging 70.2 points on 45.1 percent shooting, including 38.7 percent from 3-point range, with 35.6 rebounds, 14.5 assists, 4.8 steals and 2.9 blocks per game, while allowing 67 points on 41.9 percent shooting, including 31.9 percent from 3-point range. The Spartans are connecting on 75.7 percent from the free throw line.
- Michigan State is among the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, ranking eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (38.7). The Spartans are also first in the Big Ten in free throw percentage, while they are second in defensive rebounds (26.7) and third in rebounding margin (+2.9).
- Three players are averaging in double figures led by All-Big Ten Second Team selection Tyson Walker, who paces the Spartans at 14.8 points per game on 46.2 percent shooting, including 40.7 percent from 3-point range. Graduate Joey Hauser is just behind Walker at 14.3 points per game on 48.5 percent shooting, including 46.2 percent from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 7.1 rebounds. Junior A.J. Hoggard also averages double figures at 12.5 points game, while dishing out 5.9 assists per outing.
- Michigan State is led by Izzo, who has a 687-278 (.712) record in his 28th season on the sideline. He has taken the Spartans to eight Final Fours (1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2019) and the 2000 national title.
- Michigan State leads the all-time series, 5-2, in this, the first meeting since the Spartans swept a home-and-home series in head coach Tom Izzo’s first 2 seasons in 1995-96 and 1996-97. MSU won 67-54 in Manhattan on Dec. 16, 1995, then 75-43 on Dec. 21, 1996 at home. Overall, MSU has won 3 in a row, which includes a 72-68 win at the Great Alaska Shootout in 1989.
- The series dates all the way back to a home-and-home series in 1952 and 1954, which was swept by the Spartans.
- K-State has not defeated Michigan State since a 66-56 win in East Lansing on Dec. 1, 1962. The other Wildcat win came at Allen Fieldhouse, 104-82, in the Sunflower Doubleheader in Lawrence, Kan., on Dec. 17, 1960.
- This will be the first meeting in the NCAA Tournament.
ALL-TIME MEETINGS [2-5]
Date Rank Result Score Location
12/20/1952 2/— L 63-80 East Lansing
1/5/1954 —/— L 63-78 Manhattan
12/17/1960 20/— W 104-82 Lawrence, Kan.
12/1/1962 —/— W 66-56 East Lansing
11/27/1989 —/— L 68-72 Anchorage, Alas.
12/16/1995 —/— L 54-67 Manhattan
12/21/1996 —/— L 43-75 East Lansing
K-STATE RETURNS TO THE BIG DANCE
- No. 15/13 K-State (25-9) will be making its 18th appearance in the Sweet 16 and the first since 2018 when the 3-seed Wildcats face 7-seed Michigan State (21-12, 11-8 Big Ten) at 5:30 p.m., CT on Thursday in the East Regional Semifinals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
- K-State rated as the No. 11 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, including the third among the four No. 3 seeds (behind Baylor and Gonzaga). The No. 3 seed is the second highest by a Wildcat team since seeding began in 1979 and the highest since the 2010 team was selected as a No. 2 seed.
- K-State is making its 39th postseason appearance, which includes 32 in the NCAA Tournament and 7 in the Postseason NIT. The program has now advanced to the postseason 12 times in the last 17 seasons (10 trips to NCAA Tournament and two to the NIT). The 32 overall bids rank 22nd nationally, including fourth among Big 12 schools (Kansas , Texas  and Oklahoma ).
- The program has posted a 39-35 record in NCAA Tournament play, including 13-5 in the regional semifinals. The school is making its fifth appearance (1975, 1989, 1996, 2012) in the East Regional and is 5-4 all-time in the region. This will be the second meeting in the East Regional Semifinals and the first since beating Boston College, 74-65, on March 20, 1975 at the Providence Civic Center.
- In K-State’s NCAA Tournament history, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 18 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 12 times, made 4 Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship.
- Tang is the 10th head coach to lead K-State to the NCAA Tournament dating back to 1948. Tang was part of 10 NCAA Tournament appearances during his stint as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, which included 5 trips to the Sweet 16 (2010, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2021), 3 in the Elite Eight (2010, 2012, 2021) and a Final Four and national championship in 2021.
- Prior to last week’s games, Jerrell Colbert, Abayomi Iyiola, Keyontae Johnson, David N’Guessan and Desi Sills had been a part of teams that have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in their careers. Johnson (Florida), N’Guessan (Virginia Tech) and Sills (Arkansas) had all played in NCAA Tournament games, including Johnson in 2019, N’Guessan and Sills in 2021 and N’Guessan in 2022. Sills was part of an Arkansas team that advanced to the Elite Eight in 2021.
K-STATE IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
- K-State is 1-5 all-time in the World’s Most Famous Arena – Madison Square Garden – as the Wildcats are making their fifth visit (1976, 1994, 2007, 2012, 2023).
- This will be the first visit to MSG since splitting 2 games in the 2012 NIT Season Tipoff, defeating Delaware, 66-63, on Nov. 21, 2012, before losing the championship game to No. 4 Michigan, 71-57, on Nov. 23, 2012.
- K-State is 0-3 in the postseason at MSG, losing in the NIT to Kentucky, 81-78, on March 16, 1976, and to Vanderbilt, 82-76, and Siena, 92-79, in the 1994 NIT Final Four.
ALL-TIME AT MSG [1-5]
Date Rank Result Score Opponent Event
3/16/1976 —/— L 78-81 Kentucky NIT
3/28/1994 —/— L 76-82 Vanderbilt NIT
3/30/1994 —/— L 79-92 Siena NIT
12/4/2007 —/— L 59-68 Notre Dame Jimmy V Classic
11/21/2012 —/— W 66-63 Delaware NIT Season Tipoff
11/23/2012 —/4 L 57-71 Michigan NIT Season Tipoff
CRAZY FAITH //
HOW THE CATS WERE BUILT
Below is a timeline on building K-State back from a 14-17 season in 2021-22 to its current 23-9 record and No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Only 2 players (Markquis Nowell and Ismael Massoud) stayed upon Jerome Tang hiring, while a high school signee (Taj Manning) decided to keep his commitment.
- April 18, 2022 – LSU transfer Jerrell Colbert becomes the first Tang signee.
- April 20, 2022 – Cam Carter transfers from Mississippi State.
- May 2, 2022 – Dorian Finister becomes the first high school signee.
- May 5, 2022 – JUCO All-American Nae’Qwan Tomlin joins the program.
- June 2, 2022 – David N’Guessan transfers from Virginia Tech.
- June 15, 2022 – Desi Sills transfers from Arkansas.
- June 24, 2022 – Abayomi Iyiola transfers from Hofstra.
- June 30, 2022 – Tykei Greene transfers from Stony Brook.
- August 20, 2022 – Keyontae Johnson transfers from Florida.
- August 21, 2022 – JUCO Anthony Thomas joins the program.
- August 30, 2022 – Peyton Ackerman, Nate Awbrey added as walk-ons.
TANG WINS BIG 12 COACH OF THE YEAR
- First-year coach Jerome Tang was selected as the Big 12 Coach of the Year both by the league coaches and the AP after guiding K-State to a 23-8 record and a tie for third place with an 11-7 mark in the nation’s toughest conference despite being picked last in the preseason poll. He becomes the seventh coach in school history to earn league Coach of the Year honors, including the third in the Big 12 era (joining Frank Martin and Bruce Weber) and the first since 2013.
- K-State’s 25-9 start under Jerome Tang is the second-best by a first-year coach in school history behind Zora G. Clevenger, who went 15-2 in 1916-17. It ranks among the best by any first-year head coach in Division I, trailing just Duke’s Jon Scheyer (27-9). He joins Xavier’s Sean Miller as the only first-year Division I head coaches to advance his team to the Sweet 16 in 2023.
- Tang has been named a finalist for a number of national coaching honors, including the Ben Jobe Award (top Division I minority coach), Joe B. Hall Award (top first-year coach) and Jim Phelan Award as well as the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award. This is not Tang’s first time being a head coach, as he served as athletics director and head coach at Heritage Christian Academy in Cleveland, Texas from 1993-2003, leading the school to 5 TAPPS Division A State Championships.
- In addition, Tang twice served as interim head coach in his 19 seasons as an assistant and associate head coach at Baylor, leading the Bears to 4-0 record. He helped Baylor to wins over Texas (86-79 in OT) and at Texas Tech (82-48) during the 2012-13 season, while he guided the squad to wins over Louisiana (112-82) and Washington (86-52) to open the 2020-21 season. Tang is only credited with the wins in 2013, moving his college head coaching record to 27-9.
A TEAM OF WINNERS
- Head coach Jerome Tang has remarked on a number of occasions that he recruited a team ‘full of winners’ as exemplified by the number of championships that the collective group has won.
- There are a combined 8 state championships among the 15 players on the roster, including 2 each won by seniors Desi Sills and Abayomi Iyiola and true freshmen Taj Manning. In addition, sophomore Jerrell Colbert and true freshman Dorian Finister also won state titles during their senior seasons.
- In addition to the high school success, a number of players have been a part of winning college programs, including Sills and Iyiola being members of Arkansas’ Elite Eight team in 2021 and senior Keyontae Johnson (Florida) and junior David N’Guessan (Virginia Tech) being a part of 2 NCAA Tournaments.
- This championship mentality stretches to the staff, as associate head coach Urlic Maligi has been part of 5 NCAA Tournament and 5 conference title teams in his career. Assistant coach Jareem Dowling has been involved with teams that have won 4 conference titles and earned 4 postseason trips, while assistant coach Rodney Perry is coming off a 2021-22 year in which he led Link Academy to a national runner-up finish at the GEICO National Tournament before helping MOKAN Elite to its third Nike Peach Jam title.
1700 WINS AND COUNTING
- K-State’s overtime 96-87 win over Nevada in the semifinals of the Cayman Islands Classic represented the 1,700th win in school history. The Wildcats are the 43rd Division I team to eclipse 1,700 wins, including the sixth Big 12 school.
- The Wildcats have a 1,720-1,222 (.584) all-time record as a program, which includes 32 NCAA Tournament appearances and 21 conference championships.
- The K-State men’s basketball and football teams are having historically great seasons, as the 2022-23 season marks the seventh time in Big 12 history (and first since 2015-16) a school has won a football conference championship and gone to the Sweet 16 in the same athletics season.
- K-State is one of 11 Division I schools whose men’s and women’s basketball teams have both won more than 1,000 games. Joining K-State is this unique club is Baylor, Georgia, Maryland, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas, UConn and Western Kentucky.
- The K-State women joined their counterpart by earning a bid to the WNIT.
SUCCESS IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY
- With the 64-50 win over Florida in the final SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 28, K-State completed its non-conference schedule with a 12-1 mark, including a perfect 8-0 in home games (Nebraska was played at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City is considered a home game).
- The 12-1 record is the best non-conference record since the Wildcats won a program-best 13 non-conference games in 2009-10. The teams also won 12 non-conference games in both 2008-09 (12-3) and 2010-11 (12-3). K-State had won just 19 non-conference games, including 16 at home, in the 3 seasons (2019-20 to 2021-22) before this season.
- K-State has posted a 171-53 (.762) record in non-conference play since the 2006-07. During that span, the Wildcats have a 129-14 (.901) mark at home venues (includes games at Bramlage Coliseum, INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita and the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City in non-conference play, including a 119-12 (.908) mark at Bramlage Coliseum.
- K-State enjoyed a special night on offense in its 116-103 win over No. 6/6 Texas, as the Wildcats not only broke the school record for points but also tied the Big 12 record in handing the Longhorns their first and only loss of the 2022-23 season in the brand-new Moody Center on Jan. 3.
- The 116 points eclipsed the previous school-record mark of 115, which first came vs. Delaware State on Dec. 7, 1991, then again vs. Fresno State in the NIT on March 24, 1994. It was also the most-ever in a road game, surpassing the 108 at Iowa State on Jan. 29, 1975, while it was most in a conference game, topping the 114 scored vs. Nebraska at home on Jan. 10, 1987, and the most in a Big 12 game, surpassing the 111 vs. Missouri at home on Jan. 3, 1998.
- According to ESPN Stats & Info, K-State’s 116 points in the win at No. 6/6 Texas marked the most by an unranked team in a win over a top-10 opponent since Missouri scored 119 against Iowa State in 1988.
- All 5 starters scored in double figures, including a career-best 36 points from senior Markquis Nowell and a career-tying 28 by senior Keyontae Johnson. The 64 combined points tied for the fourth-most by a duo in school history and most since 2008, while it marked just the 16th time (including the second time this season) that tandem has each had at least 25 points in a game. Nowell’s 36 points are the seventh-most points by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game and the most since Barry Brown, Jr., scored 38 points vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 2018.
- As a team, the Wildcats connected on 61 percent (36-of-59) from the field, including 56.5 percent (13-of-23) from 3-point range, and set a school-record by hitting on 93.9 percent (31-of-33) from the free throw line. It marked the first time the team has shot better than 60 percent against a Big 12 opponent since 2018, while the 13 treys tied for the sixth-most made in a conference game.
POTENT OFFENSIVE ATTACK
- K-State is averaging 75.5 points this season on 45.8 percent (896-of-1957) shooting, including 33.6 percent (237-of-706) from 3-point range, while hitting on 75.2 percent (539-of-717) from the line. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in assists (16.8 apg.), while are second in free throw percentage, fourth in scoring offense and assist/turnover ratio (1.19) and fifth in scoring margin (+6.62).
- The season point total (2,568) is the fourth-best in school history and the most since scoring 2,630 points in 2017-18, while the Wildcats put up the most points in a conference season with 1,384 in Big 12 play. The scoring average (75.5 ppg.) is just outside the top-10 the single season top-10 and the highest since the 2009-10 team averaged 79.7 points per game. The 76.9 points average in Big 12 play is the sixth-best in a conference season and best since 2007-08.
- The Wildcats broke the single-season assist record (571) with their win over Kentucky on Sunday, breaking their tie with the 2012-13 team. The current 45.8 field goal percentage ties for the ninth-best in the shot clock era (1985-86) and the highest since 2017-18 (46.3 percent).
- K-State has scored 80 or more points 11 times, including 5 games of 90 or more points highlighted by the school-record 116-point effort in the win at No. 6/6 Texas (1/3/23), which was the first 100-point game since 2011. It is the most games of 80 or more points since also posting 11 in 2017-18 and most games of 90 or more points since also totaling 5 in 2009-10.
- The 93 points vs. UTRGV (11/7/22) were the fourth-most in a season opener in the last 25 seasons and the most since scoring 98 vs. Southern Utah to open the 2014-15 season. The Wildcats also topped the 90-point barrier in a 96-87 overtime win over Nevada (11/22/22) at the Cayman Islands Classic, while they had 98 vs. UIW (12/11/22) behind a school-record first 7 double-digit scorers.
- Twice this season the Wildcats have had 2 players (Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson) score 25 or more points in the same game, which hadn’t happened since 2010. Nowell (29) and Johnson (28) combined for 57 points in the overtime win over Nevada (11/22/22) before they went for 64 in the win at No. 6/6 Texas (1/3/23), which ties for the fourth-most by a duo in school history and the most since Michael Beasley and Bill Walker at Baylor in 2008.
- K-State has connected on better than 50 percent of its field goals in 9 games, including back-to-back vs. Rhode Island (11/21/22) and Nevada (11/22/22) and ACU (12/6/22) and UIW (12/11/22). The team hit on a season-best 60 percent (36-of-60) vs. Texas (1/3/23), which included a season-high 13 3-pointers, and a school-record performance from the free throw line of 93.9 percent (31-of-33).
DISHING THE ROCK
- K-State ranks among the best in sharing the basketball, as the Wildcats rank ninth nationally and first in the Big 12 with 16.8 assists per game. Among the school-record 571 assists are 8 players with double-digit totals, including senior Markquis Nowell, who ranks second nationally in assists/game (7.8) and third in total assists (266). Nowell, who has double-digit assists in 9 games, became the school’s single season assist leader with his 7 dimes in the win over TCU.
- The Wildcats also rank in the top-10 with a 63.7 assist percentage according to KenPom, which calculates assists (571) to made field goals (896). Only Lafayette (68.8), Tennessee (66.4), Virginia (65.4), Air Force (64.9), Arizona (64.7) and Xavier (64.1) have a better percentage nationally.
- Although Nowell gets all the attention for his playmaking ability, the rest of the team has shared the ball, as the Wildcats have had 3 or more players dish out at least 2 assists in 27 of 34 games. The team had 7 players with 2 or more assists vs. UTRGV (11/7/22), while 6 vs. Nebraska (12/17/22) and Baylor (1/3/23) and 5 vs. UIW (12/11/22), Texas (1/3/23), TCU (twice) and Texas Tech (1/21/23).
TEAM FULL OF SCORERS
- K-State is one of just 15 schools to have at least four 1,000-point scorers on its roster, as Wildcats Tykei Greene (1,198 points), Keyontae Johnson (1,385 points), Markquis Nowell (1,891 points) and Desi Sills (1,399 points) have all reached the milestone in their Division I careers. Only Johnson, who did it against Radford (12/21/22), and Nowell have reached the mark while at K-State.
- K-State has now six 1,000-point scorers if you count senior walk-on Nate Awbrey, who scored 1,032 points in his 4-year career at Manhattan Christian College, and junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who scored more than 1,000 points in his junior college career at Monroe (2019-20) and Chipola Colleges (2020-22).
- Missouri has 6 1,000-point scorers followed by Notre Dame, Penn State, San Diego, UAB and Youngstown State with 5, while K-State joins 13 other schools (including Big 12 foes Iowa State and Texas) with 4 such scorers.
- K-State is getting solid production from its bench this season, as the Wildcats are averaging 16.9 points per game. The team has scored 20 or more bench points 10 times this season, including a season-best 41 vs. UTRGV.
- The Wildcats got 41 points from its bench in the opener vs. UTRGV (11/7/22) with 3 reserves (Abayomi Iyiola (12), Ismael Massoud (10) and Desi Sills (10) all posting double-digit points. As a group, the bench connected on 14-of-29 from the field, including a collective 11-of-17 effort by Iyiola, Massoud and Sills.
- Before starts in 7 of the last 8 games, senior Desi Sills had made a huge impact from the bench, scoring in double figures 11 times, including a season-high 24 points in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. Junior Ismael Massoud has also proved to be a spark of the bench, posting 4 double-digit scoring games.
- K-State’s defense has forced 506 turnovers this season, which includes 266 steals, while averaging 16.3 points per game off those miscues. The Wildcats’ 14.9 turnovers forced per game ranks 37th nationally, including fourth in the Big 12. They are fifth in the league in steals/game (7.8 spg.), which includes steals leader Markquis Nowell (2.41 spg.).
- K-State has scored 20 or more points off turnovers 8 times with a season-high 31 points off 26 UTRGV (11/7/22) turnovers in the opener. The Wildcats scored 20+ points off miscues in back-to-back games vs. Kansas City (11/17/22; 26 points) and Rhode Island (11/21/22; 21 points) and Oklahoma (3/1/23; 20 points) and West Virginia (3/4/23; 20 points).
- K-State is 19-2 this season when the Wildcats have less or equal turnovers than their opponents, while they are 6-7 when they have more turnovers.
JOHNSON MAKES RETURN TO COURT
- Junior Keyontae Johnson made his triumphant return to basketball court on Nov. 7 in the season opener with UTRGV after a 2-year absence after suffering a medical emergency against Florida State on Dec. 12, 2020. He finished the night with 13 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in a team-high 26 minutes.
- Johnson was named the March Madness National Player of the Week and the Phillips 66 Big 12 Newcomer of the Week on Nov. 14, as he averaged 14.5 points on 47.6 percent (10-of-21) shooting, including 57.1 percent (4-of-7) from 3-point range, to go with 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the Wildcats’ first 2 wins.
- Johnson helped the Wildcats win the Cayman Islands Classic and was named to the All-Tournament team, as he averaged a team-best 19.3 points on 53.6 percent (15-of-28) shooting, including 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range, to go with a team-best 6.0 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game.
- Johnson earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors for the second time on Dec. 19 after his impressive effort vs. Nebraska, as he posted game-highs in points (23) and rebounds (11) to go with his career-tying 4 steals.
- Johnson was selected for the Newcomer award 3 more times since the start of Big 12 play, including Jan. 9 after posting consecutive 20-point games in wins at No. 6/6 Texas and No. 19/17 Baylor, Jan. 23 after his 24-point effort in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas and double-double vs. Texas Tech and Feb. 27 after averaging 21 points in wins vs. No. 9/10 Baylor and at Oklahoma State. The 5 total awards are the most since Michael Beasley won it 8 times in 2007-08.
- Johnson has scored in double figures in a team-best 33 games, leading the Wildcats and ranking third in the Big 12 in scoring (17.5 ppg.). He is the league leader in field goal percentage (51.4), while he ranks in the top-15 in 5 other categories. He is one of two Big 12 players (Kansas’ Jalen Wilson) rank in the league’s top-5 in scoring and rebounding in overall and conference-only games.
- Johnson was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year by both the league coaches and the AP as well as a First Team All-Big 12. He has been chosen as a finalist for the Naismith and John R. Wooden Awards as well as the Julius Erving Award, which goes to the top small forward, and twice named an All-American.
NOWELL STILL RUNNING THE SHOW
- On a team with 13 new players and a new staff, fifth-year senior Markquis Nowell has been the guy running the show for the Wildcats, as he leads in both assists (7.8 apg.) and steals (2.4 spg.) while averaging the second-most points (17.1 ppg.). An All-Big 12 First Team and All-Defensive Team selection, he was named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award and a Third Team All-American by the AP, NABC, The Sporting News and USBWA.
- Nowell ranks second nationally in assists/game (7.8 apg.) and third in total assists (266), while he is in the top-20 in five others, including fifth in steals (82), 10th in steals/game (2.41), 13th in free throws (172), 17th in free throw percentage (88.7) and 18th in minutes/game (36.4). He is one of 3 Division I players with at least 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals. He also ranks first among all active Division I players in steals (274).
- Nowell was recognized for his MVP performance in helping the Wildcats win the Cayman Islands Classic, as he was selected as the Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week on Nov. 28. He averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 33.6 minutes per game. It was his first weekly honor in the Big 12 and his fourth overall after winning it 3 times in the Sun Belt.
- In wins vs. Rhode Island and Nevada, Nowell became the first Wildcat to record double-digit assists in consecutive games, while he became the second player in school history and the first since 1989 to post a 25-point/10-assist game with his 29-point, 11-assist effort in the overtime win over the Wolf Pack.
- Nowell was part of the first Wildcat duo since 2010 to each collect at least 25 points in a game, as he and fellow senior Keyontae Johnson combined for 57 points in the overtime win over Nevada. He capped the tournament with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting in the title game win over LSU, as he helped the Wildcats rally from an 11-point second-half deficit.
- Nowell enjoyed a special performance in the historic win at No. 6/6 Texas, scoring a career-best 36 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, to go with a perfect 12-of-12 effort from the free throw line. It was the seventh-most points by a Wildcat in a Big 12 game and the most since Barry Brown, Jr., scored 38 points vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 10, 2018.
- Nowell capped his impressive week with the school’s first 30-point, 10-assist game in the win at No. 19/17 Baylor, scoring 32 points while dishing a career-best 14 assists. He became the first Wildcat since Michael Beasley in 2008 with consecutive 30-point games, while his 14 assists tied the record for most in a conference game in school history. In addition to his second Big 12 Player of the Week on Jan. 9, he was named the NCAA March Madness, ESPN, Naismith Trophy and Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week.
- Nowell nearly posted the school’s first triple-double in the win over Florida on Jan. 28, scoring 13 points on 4-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with a career-tying 9 rebounds and a game-high 8 assists.
- The school’s single season assists leader (266) with his 7 assists in the win over TCU, Nowell continued his historic season in the win over No. 9/10 Baylor, becoming just the 12th player in Division I since 1996-97 to dish out at least 10 assists without a single turnover vs. an AP Top 10 opponent.
- Nowell combined for 44 points and 23 assists in his first two NCAA Tournament games. He is one of two players since 1990, along with Murray State’s Ja Morant, to combine for 40 points and 20 assists before the Sweet 16. He collected his 16th career double-double, including his eighth this season, with 17 points and a career-tying 14 assists vs. Montana State.
AN INSTANT IMPACT
- Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin has given K-State another scoring threat in the post, as the junior college All-American ranks third on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg.) while connecting 50 percent (137-of-274) from the field to go with 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 0.9 blocks in 26.8 minutes per game. He averaged 12.5 points on 70.5 percent shooting in the first two NCAA Tournament games.
- Tomlin was selected as the Big 12 co-Newcomer of the Week on Dec. 26 after his near double-double in the win over Radford on Dec. 21. He led four Wildcats in double figures with a season-high 26 points, as he hit on 11-of-18 field goals, which included 4 dunks, a 3-pointer and 3 free throws, to go with 9 rebounds.
- Tomlin scored in double figures in 7 consecutive games from Dec. 3 to Jan. 3, in which, he averaged 14.9 points on 55.4 percent (41-of-74) shooting to go with 6.3 rebounds per game. The streak began with 14 points vs. Wichita State and was highlighted by a career-best 26 points vs. Radford.
- Tomlin has grabbed 10 rebounds 3 times this season, while posting his first career double-double (15 points/10 rebounds) in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. He added a second double-double with 17 points and a season-tying 10 boards at Oklahoma. He has scored in double figures in 19 games.
- Tomlin scored more than 1,000 points in his junior college career at both Monroe College (2019-20) and Chipola College (2020-21) while connecting on 54.2 percent from the field. He averaged a team-leading 13.8 points on 52.4 percent shooting with 5.9 rebounds during his All-American season at Chipola, as he guided the school to the semifinals of the NJCAA National Tournament.
STARTER OFF THE BENCH
- Before missing the West Virginia game, senior Desi Sills had earned the start in each of the games during the 4-game win streak, where he averaged 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 33 minutes per game. Before that 4-game span, he had been a spark off the bench for the Wildcats, averaging 8.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 29 minutes per game.
- Sills has scored in double figures 15 times, including a season-high 24 points in the win over No. 2/2 Kansas. He came up with 16 big points in the win over LSU in the Cayman Islands Classic Championship game, while he scored all 17 of his points at Butler in the second half. He has scored in double figures in 7 of the last 11 games, including a near triple-double vs. Oklahoma in his final home game with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.