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K-State Sees Season End in 91-82 Loss at Iowa in NIT First Round


IOWA CITY, Iowa ( – Junior Payton Sandfort scored 22 of his game-high 30 points in the first half, as Iowa jumped out to a big first-half lead en route to a 91-82 win over Kansas State in the NIT First Round on Tuesday night before 4,532 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


The loss ends K-State’s season at 19-15 overall, including an 8-10 mark in Big 12 play. The Wildcats advanced to consecutive postseasons for the first time since 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Iowa (19-14) advanced to the second round to play 2-seed Utah (20-14).

Four Wildcats scored in double figures, including a season-high 16 points from freshman Dai Dai Ames, who went 6-of-8 from the field, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes. Senior Will McNair Jr. posted 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 7 rebounds in his final game, while junior Cam Carter and senior David N’Guessan added 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Down as many as 13 points in the first half, including 11 at halftime, K-State made several attempts at a comeback in the second half, including closing to within one possession at 52-49 with 17:23 to play. However, Iowa (19-14) always seemed to have an answer for any rally, as the Hawkeyes finished with 11 made 3-pointers, including 7 from Sandfort, and made 22-of-30 attempts from the free throw line.

Sandfort, who finished with a game-high 12 rebounds, connected on 9-of-14 field goals, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range, and 5-of-6 free throws in nearly 37 minutes. Graduate Ben Krikke was equally as stellar, as he poured in 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting with 11 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Krikke scored 21 of his 24 points in the second half as Sandfort got all the defensive attention.

K-State dug itself a hole in the first half it couldn’t quite climb out of in the second half, as Iowa scored an opponent-high 50 points in the opening half, as the Hawkeyes connected on 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, while knocking down 15 of 21 attempts from the free throw line. Sandfort connected on 6-of-8 from the field, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, and made 5-of-6 free throws for 22 points.

Ames, who scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, keyed a 10-0 run early in the second half with a pair of 3-pointers that drew the Wildcats to within 52-49 with 17:32 to play. However, the Hawkeyes surged back ahead with a 17-7 run that included 7 points from Krikke.

K-State made another run behind the play of N’Guessan and McNair, who combined for 7 consecutive points that closed the deficit to 72-67 with 7:40 to play. However, Krikke provided another lift with 6 points in a 9-3 Iowa run that pushed the lead back out to 81-70 with 5:37 remaining. The Wildcats would get no closer than 7 points the rest of the way.

K-State connected on 47.8 percent (33-of-69) from the field, including 50 points in the paint. However, the Wildcats struggled from beyond the arc, making just 8 of 30 attempts (26.7 percent), and made just 8 of 16 attempts from the free throw line.

Iowa finished the night with a 48.3 field goal percentage (29-of-60), including 47.8 percent (11-of-23) from 3-point range, and 73.3 percent (22-of-30) from the free throw line.

K-State ended the year with 9 consecutive road losses to finish 4-12 away from home.

It was a fast start for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes’ leading scorer – Payton Sandfort – started 3-of-3 from beyond the arc to give the home team an 11-8 advantage less than 5 minutes into the contest. He was fouled on a 3-pointer right before the first media timeout at the 15:56 mark, knocking down 2 of 3 free throws, to push the advantage to 13-8 and giving him 11 points.

A layup by senior David N’Guessan got K-State to within 14-10, however, Iowa answered back with 10 of the next 14 points, including a fourth 3-pointer, to jump ahead 24-14 at the second media timeout with 11:36 to play. A 7-3 spurt pulled the Wildcats to within 27-21 near the 10-minute mark, but the Hawkeyes continued to press to again get the lead into double figures at 34-23 with 7:09 to play.

Freshman Macaleab Rich gave the Wildcats a boost with 5 straight points to close the deficit to 35-28, but the Hawkeyes responded with 6 in a row to push it back out to 41-28 with less than 3 minutes left. Baskets by Rich and sophomore Jerrell Colbert plus a 3-pointer from senior Tylor Perry made it 47-39 with less than a minute to play, but a fifth 3-pointer by Sandfort made 50-39 at the break.

Iowa shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the field, including 50 percent (7-of-14) from 3-point range, to post the highest first-half point total by a K-State opponent this season. Sandfort led all scorers with 22 points, while Rich led the Wildcats with 7 points.

The Hawkeyes equaled their largest lead in the first half with a jumper on the first possession of the second half, but the Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run to close the deficit to 52-49 and forced head coach Fran McCaffery to call a timeout at the 17:23 mark. Freshman Dai Dai Ames had a pair of 3-pointers in the run, while junior Cam Carter and senior Will McNair Jr. each had baskets.

A 3-point play by graduate Ben Krikke ended the run and started a stretch of 6 of the next 8 points to give Iowa some breathing room at 58-51. A layup by Ames and a 3-pointer by Carter got K-State within 60-56, but again Iowa answered the surge with 7 straight points to push it back out to 69-56.

Back-to-back baskets by N’Guessan ended the run, as the Wildcats continued to challenge the Hawkeyes, getting the deficit to 72-67 behind a 7-0 run with 7:40 remaining. N’Guessan (4 points) and McNair (3 points) combined for all 7 points. But just like the rest of the game, the home team found some offense, scoring 7 of the next 10 points to extend the lead to 79-70 and force a timeout by head coach Jerome Tang with just 6 minutes to play.

K-State would get no closer than 7 points the rest of the way, as Iowa advanced to the second round.

Opening statement…
“I just want to thank the University of Iowa and the hospitality that we received; the people were incredible. Everywhere we went and, obviously, Coach Fran (McCaffery) had his team ready to play and they did a great job and so credit to them and good luck to them the rest of the year.”

On the change defensively in the second half…
“We found number 20 (Payton Sandfort). He was like at the top of the scouting report, had a big picture of him, in fact our coaches who did the scout referred to him as their Caitlin Clark. I don’t know that he could have given a better description. We got to find this young fella, and somehow, we lost him, and he got going. And when you let a good player see it go in, it just makes the basket get bigger. Credit to him.

On his proud level of the guys fighting back in the second half…
“The thing I’m most proud of these guys about has very little to do with what they did on the basketball court. We played at Cincinnati, and lost on a buzzer beater game, you know, like, like an NCAA to go to the NCAA tournament type game. And their kid hits a three pointer at the end. Fly back that night, I think we got home probably around two in the morning. And at eight o’clock in the morning, our guys were at an elementary school reading to kids. Those are the kinds of dudes that we have in our program. That’s what our program is about and what it’s built on. And we’re gonna win a bunch of basketball games. But the standard that we had this year for wins is we didn’t meet it. But we met everything else, what we do in the locker room, what we do in the classroom, what we do in the community, how we conduct ourselves how we treat people and so I couldn’t be prouder of these young men.”

On the play of freshman Dai Dai Ames
“I thought all three of the freshmen played well. R.J. (Jones) didn’t score, but he did a lot of things really, really well. Buddy (Macaleab) got some minutes, and you can see the physical talent. And so, I’m really happy with our freshmen and the growth they’ve made. It was good to see Dai Dai not only score, but also to have 5 assists and just 2 turnovers. That’s what you want from your point guard. We want to try and get his (assists to turnovers) to 3-to-1. He’s a tough kid. I really like our young guys.”


  • K-State (19-15, 8-10 Big 12) saw its 2023-24 season end in a 91-82 loss to a hot-shooting Iowa on Tuesday night in the NIT First Round at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
  • K-State is now 6-9 all-time in the NIT, including 4-4 in the first round… The Wildcats are now 0-4 on the road in the NIT.
  • K-State fell to 4-12 away from home this season, including 2-9 in true road games… The Wildcats finished the season with 9 consecutive losses on the road.
  • K-State scored its 82 points on 47.8 percent (33-of-69) shooting, including 26.7 percent (8-of-30) from 3-point range, and 50 percent (8-of-16) from the free throw line.
  • K-State scored 50 points in the paint, which was the third-highest total this year.
  • Iowa outrebounded K-State, 41-38, including 12 offensive rebounds that resulted in 15 second-chance points… The Wildcats were outrebounded in just 14 games this season.
  • K-State used a starting lineup of senior Tylor Perry, freshman Dai Dai Ames, junior Cam Carter, junior Arthur Kaluma and redshirt sophomore Jerrell Colbert… It marked the 13th straight game using this lineup and just the fifth different lineup this season… Carter has now started all 70 games in his K-State career… Carter and Perry have started all 34 games… Kaluma earned his 32nd start… It was the 16th start for Ames and the 13th career start for Colbert.


  • Four Wildcats scored in double figures, including a season-high 16 points for freshman Dai Dai Ames… Senior Will McNair Jr. (15 points), junior Cam Carter (13 points) and senior David N’Guessan (12 points) also scored in double figures.
  • Ames scored his 16 points on 6-of-8 field goals, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes… He now has scored in double figures in 8 games.
  • It marked the first time this season that Ames has led the team in scoring.
  • McNair scored his 15 points on 7-of-10 field goals to go with team-tying 7 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 22 minutes… He finishes his college career with 27 double-digit scoring games, including 13 in his lone season as a Wildcat.
  • Carter scored his 13 points on 5-of-14 field goals, including 1-of-6 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 free throws to go with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in 28 minutes… He now has scored in double figures in 37 career games, including 27 this season.
  • N’Guessan scored his 12 points on 5-of-6 field goals to go with a team-tying 7 rebounds in 22 minutes… He now has scored in double figures in 25 career games, including 14 this season.

K-State concludes the 2023-24 season with a 19-15 overall record, including a tie for ninth place in the Big 12 with an 8-10 mark. The Wildcats have won 45 games in head coach Jerome Tang‘s 2 seasons.