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K-State Moves On To Elite 8 with Instant Classic over Michigan State


By Kansas State University Athletics


NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. ( – Senior Markquis Nowell sealed one of the greatest NCAA Tournament performances in school history with a steal of fellow New Yorker Tyson Walker with 3 seconds left in overtime, as 3-seed Kansas State earned a trip to the Elite Eight with a 98-93 win over 7-seed Michigan State on Thursday in the semifinals of the East Regional before 19,624 fans at Madison Square Garden.

Nowell’s layup at the buzzer gave him 20 points for the night to go with an NCAA Tournament-record 19 assists and 5 steals. His 19 assists eclipsed the previous record of 18 set by UNLV’s Mark Wade in the 1987 National Semifinals. The assist total also broke the school single season record of 16 set by Keith Frazier against Central Missouri on Dec. 18, 1976, while also surpassing his own NCAA Tournament mark of 14 vs. Montana State.

It was his 17th career points/assists double-double, including his 12th at K-State and his ninth this season.

K-State (26-9) advances to the East Regional Finals on Saturday at 5:09 p.m., CT when the Wildcats will play 9-seed Florida Atlantic (34-3) for an opportunity to advance to the Final Four. The Owls defeated No. 4 seed Tennessee, 62-55, in the nightcap at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.

It will be the 13th trip to the Elite Eight for the Wildcats, including the first since 2018. The win was the 26th of the season, which is the third-most in school history behind the 29 in 2009-10 and the 27 in 2012-13.

“I just want to give all the honor and glory to the man himself for giving me this platform to showcase my talents and my gifts,” said Nowell. “But today was a special one, man. I’ve got to give a lot to credit to my teammates for battling, for fighting through adversity when we were down. I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now. I just know that I’m blessed and I’m grateful.”

In addition to Nowell’s record-setting night, the Wildcats broke school records for most assists (26) and fewest turnovers (5) in an NCAA Tournament game while tying the mark for made 3-point field goals (11). The 98 points were the fourth-most (98) in an NCAA Tournament game in school history and the most since scoring 101 vs. Xavier in 2010 NCAA West Regional Semifinals on March 25, 2010.

K-State connected on 55.9 percent (38-of-68), including 66.7 percent (6-of-9) in the decisive overtime period.

Nowell was one of six Wildcats to score in double figures, including one of two with 20-point games, as fellow senior Keyontae Johnson led the team with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting in playing nearly 45 minutes. He now has 10 games of 20 or more points this season with double figures now in 34 of 35 games. Nowell now has 32 career 20-point games, including 16 at K-State and a team-leading 13 this season.

Junior Ismael Massoud scored a K-State career-best 15 points off the bench, hitting on 5-of-8 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, while sophomore Cam Carter had perhaps his best all-around game in a Wildcat uniform with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in nearly 37 minutes. Juniors David N’Guessan and Nae’Qwan Tomlin each added 11 points with N’Guessan going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. Tomlin added a team-high 7 rebounds to go with 2 blocked shots on 4-of-9 shooting.

In game that included 16 lead changes and 14 ties, Michigan State (21-13) was able to force overtime with an impressive final minute, getting a second chance putback from senior Malik Hall with 51 seconds before Walker’s driving layup tied the game at 82-all with 5 seconds remaining.

In the extra period, Johnson broke a 92-all tie with a lob-dunk from Nowell with 52 seconds, then after a free throw from Hall with 43 seconds closed the deficit to 94-93, Nowell set the all-time NCAA Tournament record with his 19th assist to Massoud on an inbound play for a jumper and a 96-93 lead with 17 seconds remaining.

Nowell sealed the game with a steal of Walker with 3 seconds and a layup at the buzzer for the final 98-93 win.

MSU connected on 49.2 percent (31-of-63) from the field, including 52 percent (13-of-25) from 3-point range, while making 81.8 percent (18-of-22) from the free throw line.

Five Spartans registered double figures, including a game-high 25 points from junior A.J. Hoggard, who went 7-of-14 from the field and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Graduate Joey Hauser scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-9 from 3-point range, while Walker and sophomore Jaden Akins added 16 points each. Hall had a near double-double with 11 points and game-high 8 rebounds.

With the win, K-State snapped a 3-game losing streak to Michigan State in its first NCAA Tournament meeting.

K-State opened the game with a dunk by senior Keyontae Johnson on a pass from senior Markquis Nowell, which was followed by a 3-pointer from fellow senior Desi Sills for a 5-0 lead. However, MSU responded with its own dunk and a 3-pointer from graduate Joey Hauser to knot the game at 5-all. The team went back and forth over the next few minutes with the Wildcats holding leads of 9-5 and 12-8 before the Spartans tied it at 12-all.

The game remained tied until a Hauser layup gave the MSU its first lead at 19-18 right before the third media timeout with 7:49 before the half. The Spartans extended its lead to 24-20 after a 3-pointer and a jumper from graduate Tyson Walker at the 6:32 mark. However, the Wildcats responded with a 10-4 run to take a 30-26 lead at the final media timeout of the half with 3:46 to play. Four different players contributed during the run, including a 3-pointer from junior Ismael Massoud and a 3-point play from Johnson.

After a pair of free throws closed the gap to 30-28, K-State scored 8 of the next 12 points to take a 38-32 at the 1:48 mark. The run was started with a 3-pointer by Nowell and capped by a second 3-pointer from Massoud. MSU was able to get within 40-38 on a 6-2 spurt, but sophomore Cam Carter hit a 3-pointer at the top of the key to finish off the first-half scoring and extend the lead to 43-38 at the break.

The Wildcats had a strong start to the second half, scoring 6 of the first 9 points to open a 49-41 after a driving layup by Sills. However, the Spartans answered with a corner 3-pointer and a jumper to close the gap to 50-46 at the first media timeout with 15:31 to play. The run continued out of timeout, as MSU knotted the game at 50-all then again at 52-all before taking the lead at 55-52 on a 3-point play by Hoggard with 13:11 to play.

Nowell knotted the game at 55-all with a circle 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down before Carter gave K-State a 57-55 on a layup. However, MSU responded with a 5-0 spurt to push back out ahead at 60-57. The Wildcats pulled back ahead on a Johnson layup at 61-60, but the Spartans caught fire from long range, as the lead see-sawed back and forth over the next few minutes.

With MSU leading 70-67 after a corner 3-pointer, Carter ignited a 10-0 run by K-State with his own corner triple that was followed by a layup by junior David N’Guessan, a 3-pointer from Massoud and driving layup by Tomlin for a 77-70 advantage with 4:45 left. However, the Spartans responded with another triple and a free throw by senior A.J. Hoggard to draw within 77-75 with 3:24 remaining.

Another Massoud 3-pointer and Nowell jumper gave K-State an 82-78 lead with just over a minute to play. However, MSU was able to send the game to overtime with a jumper from Walker with 5 seconds left.

Johnson opened the overtime period with a jumper, which was followed by a 5-0 run by the Spartans with a pair of free throws and a 3-pointer that gave them an 87-84 lead. Nowell knocked down 2 free throws and N’Guessan finished a layup that returned the lead to Wildcats with 2:28 to play. The team went back and forth over the next few minutes, including 2 free throws by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin that knotted the score at 92-all with 1:28 left.

Johnson gave K-State the lead for good on an alley-oop dunk from Nowell with 52 seconds. After a free throws by Hall, Nowell was able to find Massoud for a right-corner jumper for a 96-93 lead with 17 seconds.

MSU had one last opportunity after a timeout with 12 seconds, but Nowell was able to turn over Walker with 3 seconds and scored the final points with a layup at the buzzer.

Head Coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“First of all, I just want to thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I’m just telling you. I would not be where I’m at right now if it wasn’t for his faithfulness in my life and guidance. And every one of these guys up here, their faith is important to them. It doesn’t matter what their faith is, but it’s important to them and guides their life. And I see it in their work ethic, I see it in how they treat people off the court, and I hope y’all saw the love that they have for each other, the joy with which they play and the freedom that they’re allowed to be out there and play. I’m just really, really thankful I get to yell at them in practice one more day. We just get to spend another day and dap each other up, all little things that really matter. I’m just so thankful for that.”

On the defensive mindset coming in…
“We’ve caused a lot of turnovers all year long. And Michigan State is a low-turnover team, and we really just wanted to turn it into a one-on-one game because Coach Izzo runs such great actions. Our guys happened to make some plays. All that reaching and stuff, we put them at the free-throw line a lot, too. They have really good guards, and we have really good guards, and it showed tonight.”

On Markquis Nowell’s court vision…
“Well, what really helps is that all 10 eyes on the defense have to pay attention to him, and that’s what allows everybody else to get open. It’s not just that he sees it, but they all have to pay attention to him when he has the ball in his hands.”

On what it means to get to a regional final…
“I mean, it means I get to spend a few more days with our guys. It’s a huge accomplishment. This thing is hard. It’s hard to do. Man, when it happens, you just have to really embrace it and enjoy it and not — like take a moment. We’ve got to take a moment and just really soak this thing in before we move on to the next thing. Now, the next thing is really huge, whoever we have to play, but we’re kind of just taking everything 1-0 every day and every aspect of the day. I’m really thankful for the opportunity.”

On what you do to foster such creativity and fun your team…
“You know, they’ve all played this game for a really long time, and they all see the game a certain way. My job is not to make them see it the way I want it played. My job is to figure out how they play best and then put them in an environment where they can do that. So, they know I have confidence in them. I know they want to win. Any shot or play that’s made is never made that they’re trying to do something to hurt the team. They’re trying to help the team. We only had eight turnovers today, so I’d rather them shoot from the logo than turn the ball over.”

Senior Markquis Nowell
On his performance…
“I just want to give all the honor and glory to the man himself for giving me this platform to showcase my talents and my gifts. But today was a special one, man. I’ve got to give a lot to credit to my teammates for battling, for fighting through adversity when we were down. I can’t even explain how I’m feeling right now. I just know that I’m blessed and I’m grateful.”

On his reverse alley-oop play to Keyontae Johnson
“I mean, it was just a basketball play between me and Keyontae. We knew how Michigan State plays defense. They play high up, and Keyontae just told me, we got eye contact, and he was like, lob, lob. I just threw it up, and he made a great play.”

On his 19 assists…
“No, this is probably my career high in assists ever. I had a couple games with 14, a couple games with 17 back in high school. But this one was special, in front of my hometown, in front of the city that loves me. I can’t even put into words how blessed and grateful I am.”

On the pain you were in after the injury and what it took to get back in the game…
“I just wanted to do it for my teammates. I love being out there with these guys, and I wasn’t going to let a little injury like this that happens on the basketball court all the time to stop me from playing in the Sweet 16 and advancing to the Elite 8. But man, got to give credit to my teammates for holding it down when I was out and for battling.”

On the back and forth nature of the game…
“To piggy-back off what Keyontae said, give credit to Michigan State. They played a tremendous game on the offensive end and defensive end. It was like a Rocky fight tonight. We were going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And some guys made some big-time plays, so I want to give credit to coach Tom Izzo and Michigan State.”

Senior Keyontae Johnson
On Markquis Nowell’s injury and what it meant to have him come back…
“I mean, it means a lot. He’s our starting point guard. His IQ, his feel for the game, he brings everybody confidence, and when he came back, I felt like it just — everybody seen how he was trying to fight through his injury, and we just wanted to fight back for him.”

On what this game means to you…
“It’s a blessing, just I always say that, God gave me a second chance. I’m just out here taking advantage of it, just having fun. I wanted to get the win with my guys, all my teammates from New York. So that was a big part of my goal today, and just keep it going. I’ve never been to Houston, so my motto is try to get to Houston and just keep this going really.”

Junior Ismael Massoud
On his performance and doing it at the Garden…
“This is my first time playing in the Garden, and it’s surreal. I first want to say Happy Ramadan to all the Muslims out there that are fasting, and I wish for nothing but blessings the rest of the month. It’s really credit to God, credit to my teammates. They got the belief in me to find me and get me shots and all I had to do was knock it down. It’s surreal. I don’t think it’s hit me yet, but it’s praise to God, praise to my teammates, praise to my coaching staff. I’m just blessed.”

On his confidence…
“For one, I just try and take every shot one at a time, one shot at a time. I try and think of what’s important, I try and take everything play-by-play and just be ready whenever the moment comes, because of the work I put in and the work — the faith and trust my teammates have in me to come to me in those moments. So it’s really just a combination of all those things.”

Team Notes

  • K-State advances to its 13th Elite Eight and its first since 2017-18.
  • The win was K-State’s 40th NCAA Tournament play, as the Wildcats are now 40-35 all-time, including 14-5 in the Regional Semifinals, 6-4 in the East Regional and 3-0 as a No. 3 seed.
  • K-State’s 26 wins are the third-most in a single season, trailing the 29 in 2009-10 and the 27 in 2012-13… It is already the eighth 25-win season or better in school history.
  • The 26 wins by Tang are the second-most by first-year head coach in school history, trailing the 27 by Bruce Weber in 2012-13.
  • K-State is now 4-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament in overtime… The team is now 75-47 all-time in overtime, including 69-37 in single overtime and 4-0 this season.
  • The 98 points are the fourth-most in an NCAA Tournament game in school history and the most since posting 101 vs. Xavier in NCAA West Regional Semifinals on March 25, 2010.
  • The 98 points came on 55.9 percent (38-of-68) shooting, including 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from 3-point range, while connecting on 68.8 percent (11-of-16) from free throw line… The team has totaled 2,666 points this season, which is the second-most in a single season and most since 2,949 in 2009-10.
  • K-State set school NCAA Tournament records for most assists (26) and fewest turnovers (5), while the Wildcats tied the mark for made 3-point field goals (11) in an NCAA Tournament game.
  • The 26 assists tied the season-high, while the 5 turnovers were the fewest in any game this season…
  • K-State continues its single season record total to 597 assists on the team.
  • K-State is now 20-2 when having equal or less turnovers than its opponents.
  • K-State now has double-digit made 3-point field goals in 7 games this season.
  • K-State scored 44 of its 98 points in the paint, which marked the 14th time this season when scoring 40 or more points in the paint.
  • K-State registered 10 steals on the night, which marked the ninth time with double-digit steals on the season… The team now has 276 steals on the season, which is the fifth-most in school history.
  • Michigan State had a 37-31 advantage on the glass, including 13 offensive rebounds which resulted in 15 second-chance points… K-State is now 6-4 when losing the rebounding battle.
  • K-State led 43-38 at the half on the strength of 61.5 percent (16-of-26) shooting… Seven different players scored in first half, including 14 from senior Keyontae Johnson.
  • K-State is now 16-2 this season when leading at the half.

Player Notes

  • Six Wildcats scored in double figures for the third time this season and the first time ever in an NCAA Tournament game.
  • Senior Markquis Nowell set the NCAA Tournament record with 19 assists, eclipsing the 18 by UNLV’s Mark Wade in the 1987 National Semifinals… The 19 assists also broke the school overall and NCAA Tournament marks for assists… The previous school record belonged to Keith Frazier with 16 assists vs. Central Missouri on Dec. 18, 1976, while Nowell broke his own NCAA Tournament mark (14 vs. Montana State)… He continues his school single season record total to 285.
  • Nowell became the first Wildcat with 10 assists in a half in school history.
  • Nowell now has 18 career double-digit assists, 13 at K-State and 10 this season.
  • Nowell added 20 points to post his 17th career double-double, his 12th at K-State and 9th this season… He already owns the school career and single-season records for points/assists double-doubles.
  • Nowell now has 32 career 20-point games, including 16 at K-State and 13 this season… He has now scored in double figures in 98 career games in college, including 51 in his K-State career and 32 this season.
  • Nowell’s 5 assists gave him 87 on the season, making him the single season record holder… His 279 career steals continue to lead all active Division I players.
  • Senior Keyontae Johnson paced all Wildcat scorers with 22 points, hitting on 10-of-18 field goals, including 1-of-4 from 3-point range, and 1-of-2 from the free throw line… Johnson now has 18 career 20-point games, including 10 this season… He has now scored in double figures in 72 career games, including 34 of 35 games this season.
  • Junior Ismael Massoud posted a K-State career-high 15 points on 5-of-8 field goals, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range… He now has 27 career double-digit scoring games, including 16 at K-State.
  • Sophomore Cam Carter scored 12 points on 5-of-6 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range,
  • Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin scored 11 points on 4-of-9 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws to go with a team-high 7 rebounds… He now has 20 double-digit scoring games.
  • Junior David N’Guessan scored 11 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the field, including 1-of-1 from 3-point range… He has scored in double figures in 11 career games, including 7 this season.

3-seed K-State (26-9) will play 9-seed Florida Atlantic (34-3) on Saturday at 5:09 p.m., CT in the East Regional Final at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This will be the first meeting between the schools.