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Late First-Half Run Propels 11 K-State Past Oklahoma, 85-69

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By Kansas State University Athletics

 

MANHATTAN, Kan. (kstatesports.com)– A 9-0 run to end the first half fueled a huge second-half effort by No. 11/11 Kansas State, as the Wildcats completed their home schedule with an 85-69 win over Oklahoma on Wednesday night before a sold-out crowd of 11,000 at Bramlage Coliseum.

With the win, K-State (23-7, 11-6 Big 12) ran its winning streak to 4 games, while ending its home season with 4 consecutive victories to finish with a near perfect 15-1 record at Bramlage Coliseum. The 15 wins are the second-most all-time in the arena’s history and the most since winning 16 in 2012-13.

It was an impressive offensive performance for the Wildcats after a shaky start, in which, they started just 4-of-20 (20 percent) from the field while missing 10 of their first 11 field goals. However, the team was able to get their offense going towards the end of the first half, breaking a 25-all tie with 3:28 to play with 9 consecutive points to end the half to take a 34-25 lead into the break.

Riding the momentum, K-State opened the second half by scoring 14 of the first 18 points to expand its lead to 48-31 and force a timeout by Oklahoma head coach Porter Moser with near 16 minutes to play. A few minutes later, a 3-pointer by sophomore Cam Carter and a dunk by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin gave the Wildcats their largest lead at 53-33. Although the Sooners were able to cut into the lead on a number of occasions, including 75-65 with just over 2 minutes to play, the home team was able to push out ahead and finish off the game.

All told, the Wildcats scored 72 points in the final 31 minutes on 70 percent (28-of-40) shooting after opening the game with just 13 points on 20 percent (4-of-20) shooting in the first 8 minutes of the game. The team scored 51 points in the second half on 70.4 percent (19-of-27) shooting, including 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range. It marked the first time K-State has hit on 70 percent or better in a half since 2019.

It was an all-around team effort, as four Wildcats scored in double figures led by 19 points from Tomlin, while six players had at least 6 points and nine players scored in total. The team is now 12-1 this season when six or more players score at least 6 points. Tomlin scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half on 6-of-6 shooting while finishing a near perfect 8-of-9 from the field.

Senior Keyontae Johnson scored 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, to go with 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists in 35 minutes. Senior Desi Sills flirted with a triple-double in his final home game with 15 points, a game-high 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Senior Markquis Nowell collected his 15th career double-double, including his 10th at K-State and his seventh this season, with 11 points and game-high 10 assists.

For the game, the Wildcats connected on 53.3 percent (32-of-60) shooting, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, while hitting on 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the free throw line. The team had 22 assists on 32 made field goals, while they had a season-high 24 fast-break points and 44 points in the paint.

K-State has now scored 80 or more points in 10 games, which is the most since posting 11 in 2017-18.

Oklahoma (14-16, 4-13 Big 12) was led by the freshmen tandem of Milos Uzan and Otega Oweh, who combined for 38 points on the night. Uzan led all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, to go with 5 assists, while Oweh added 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Senior Jacob Groves had 11 points off the bench on 4-of-5 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range.

K-State snapped a 3-game losing streak to Oklahoma to even the season series.

IN THEIR WORDS
Head Coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“First of all, I’m blessed to be able to do what I do. And I’m so thankful to God for this opportunity that He has given me. The young man I get to impact every day, I mean, they probably impact me more than I impact them. The terrific staff we had have. I mean, I get to live life for really great men, Man, that environment out there. Our fans, how they showed up today and tonight and, just to honor our seniors. I might have been more nervous than the seniors just because we’ve had a really good year so far, and you just want them to be able to leave the court with a really good feeling, their last time out there. Whether we won or lost this last this game, I had something planned for us to do at the end because we’re going to honor these guys because this game didn’t like to determine what kind of season we had. But I was very thankful that we were able to win so that we could celebrate fully at the end.”

On turning Bramlage into a great atmosphere again…
“It’s a huge blessing. Before the game I just was looking around and just, what God has been able to do here and with the hard work of our staff and our players, you know, it’s just incredible man. I kind of thought I knew what it would be like, but it’s just surpassed anything that I would have imagined.”

On Nae’Qwan Tomlin
“I think the first thing is when Nae’Qwan doesn’t foul, he gets to play more. And when he plays more, we’re better. And then when he runs the floor, it opens everything up. Because usually the guy who’s guarding him is a big fella who has to worry about chasing him down to court and then he gets these open looks. When he gets open looks, I think he’s gonna make them, he’s been working, he’s been working at it. We’ve been showing him film, we’ve been encouraging him when he turns stuff down that we want you to shoot it. And so yeah it helps him but I think the other parts of it helped him be able to hit some threes because he wasn’t in foul trouble, so he wasn’t sitting on a bench and then when he was on the bench it was because he wasn’t running the floor. We need you to run and when he decided to run hard in the second half, he gets 19 points.”

On Desi Sills
“Incredible. Almost had a triple double. I mean, he’s locked in. I mean, Des is a winner man. You could try to find other words, but that’s what it boils down to. Whatever you need that game to win, Desi is willing to provide. I’ll just tell you the other day, Oklahoma State, Des is at the scorer’s table ready to check in, it’s late in the second half. Cam [Carter] hits a three in transition and that’s who Desi is going to. He looks at me, he gets up, he runs back to the bench and goes ‘Cam’s in his grove.’ That’s a winner, right, like forget what the numbers he puts up on the floor when a young man can see that and be that kind of a teammate. Those are the kind of dudes in tough situations you can get some stuff done with. Desi does whatever it takes for us to win.”

Senior Markquis Nowell
On his emotions during senior day…
“I was just so thankful and grateful that you know, I decided to finish my career here at K-State. I’ve been on both sides, I’ve been on the losing side and now I’m on the winning side. So, I’m just thankful for it all. Thankful for Gene Taylor, Coach Tang and everybody for believing in me in day one. Tom [Gilbert], I’m thankful for everybody, D. Scott [Fritchen], all you guys that have been a part of my journey. It’s been a good ride.”

On the team’s expect to win mentality…
“It’s the habits that we created from day one. Just going 1-0, winning each day, doing everything possible to get better. And Coach Tang embodied that in us from the first time he stepped foot on campus. We just live by that each and every day. So now it’s a habit, we try to win everything that we do, win each game, win each media, win each day. So, this is just the results of what we’ve been doing.”

Senior Keyontae Johnson
On how hitting threes can help his game…
“I feel like that helps more my teammates get more shots and just make another team press up on me and then I can kick out to them.  Or just giving me, the coaches and my teammates make me more comfortable out there. It just opens the floor, and it gives me confidence. They tell me to keep shooting, I’ve been in the gym on the off days just trying to get extra reps and it’s showcasing throughout the games I’ve been playing.”

On his emotions during senior day…
“I’m just thankful. Last year I had senior night, but I didn’t play in my senior night so just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to feel this feeling on senior night and play in front of the best fans out there. Thank my parents and my coaches for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream that I wanted to do.”

Senior Desi Sills
On being shy of a triple double…
“Just coming out, I just want to leave a legacy, you know me, my dog mentality, all on the floor. If this is my last game at Bramlage I just want to give my all. I just appreciate the fans. So, I was shy of a triple double but that doesn’t matter. I’m just happy that we got the win.”

On his ability to rebound the ball…
“I just feel like Coach said when I get the rebound, I’m like a point guard as well, when Markquis don’t got the ball I’m the backup point guard. Beside Key [Keyontae] said you push it, you know how to make plays, you’re a playmaker, so just do your job to try to find it open guys. We got Nae’Qwan and Key, you know, and Markquis, everybody gonna key in on them guys so other guys got to step up. So just trying to stay consistent these last two games and try to give them all you know.”

Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin
On finding consistency the past few games…
“It helps in a very big way, you know, like they key onto Markquis and Keyontae. And so, we have other guys like me and Desi that can help open the floor more and create more plays.”

On being able to make three pointers…
“I think it opens it up a lot because I started making threes and you know people adjust and try to like fly out and give me opportunities to get to the basket or make the play.”

Senior Nate Awbrey
On the fans chanting his name…
“Yeah, it was really cool. I just wanted to get the win tonight but obviously these guys did their job. So, we got in the position where I got to go in the game and so that was a really cool experience, something I’ll never forget.”

On if there was any pressure during his free throws…
“Not really. I felt like there was more pressure against Florida. Tonight, I already had them cheering for me, I just had to make it, but they were going to cheer for me no matter what I did.”

BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
Team Notes

  • With the win, K-State moves to 23-7 overall, including 11-6 in Big 12 play… It is the best start since the 2018-19 team went 23-7 after 30 games.
  • The 23 wins tie for the second-most by a first-year head coach, trailing the school-record of 27 by Bruce Weber in 2012-13 and tying the 23 by Bob Huggins in 2006-07.
  • K-State earned its fourth straight win, while winning its fourth in a row at home.
  • K-State moved to 16-1 in home games, including 15-1 at Bramlage Coliseum… The 15 wins at Bramlage Coliseum are the second-most in the arena’s history and most since winning 16 in 2012-13.
  • K-State collected its eighth sellout of the season at Bramlage Coliseum (all in Big 12 play)… It is the most sellouts at Bramlage Coliseum since posting 9 in 2014-15.
  • K-State scored its 85 points on 53.3 percent (32-of-60) shooting, including 47.4 percent (9-of-19) from 3-point range, while connecting 63.2 percent (12-of-19) from the free throw line.
  • K-State has now scored 80 or more points in 10 games, which is the most since posting 11 in 2017-18.
  • K-State has now shot better than 50 percent from the field in 8 games.
  • K-State hit on 70.4 percent (19-of-27) in the second half, including 50 percent (4-of-8) from 3-point range… It marks the first time the Wildcats have shot 70 percent or better in a half since shooting 71.4 percent (20-of-28) against Alabama State on Dec. 11, 2019, while it is the first time doing it in a Big 12 game since shooting 73.1 percent (19-of-26) against Oklahoma on Jan. 16, 2018.
  • K-State had 22 assists on its 32 made field goals with 4 Wildcats dishing out at least 2 assists… It marks the 10th time this season that the team has had at least 20 assists.
  • K-State scored 44 points in the paint, which marked the 10th time with 40 or more points in the paint.
  • K-State scored a season-high 24 fast-break points, eclipsing the 22 vs. Rhode Island (11/21/22).
  • K-State scored 20 points off 13 Oklahoma turnovers… The Wildcats have now scored 20 or more points off turnovers in 7 games this season, including the second time in Big 12 play.
  • K-State held a 37-26 advantage on the glass, including 10 offensive rebounds, which resulted in 9 second-chance points… The Wildcats are 13-2 when winning the rebounding battle.
  • K-State led 34-25 at half on the strength of a half-ending 9-0… Senior Keyontae Johnson led all scorers with 10 points, while junior David N’Guessan added 8 points.
  • K-State is now 13-2 this season when leading at the half.

Player Notes

  • Four Wildcats scored in double figures led by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin’s 19 points… Six players had at least 6 points, while 9 players scored in total.
  • K-State is now 12-1 this season when 6 players score 6 or more points.
  • Tomlin scored his 19 points on 8-of-9 field goals, including 2-of-2 from 3-point range… He also 5 rebounds and 2 blocks… He has now scored in double figures in 15 games this season.
  • Senior Keyontae Johnson scored 16 points on 7-of-12 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3-point range, to go with 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists in 35 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 29 of 30 games… He scored in double figures in 67 career games.
  • Senior Desi Sills had a near triple-double in his last game at Bramlage Coliseum with 15 points on 5-of-9 field goals and 5-of-6 free throws to go with a game-high 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals and a block in 35 minutes… His rebounding and assist totals were both season-highs… He has now scored in double figures in 63 career games, including 13 times at K-State.
  • Senior Markquis Nowell recorded his 15th career double-double, including his 7th this season with 11 points on 3-of-9 field goals, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range, and 2-of-2 free throws and 10 assists… He added 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 36 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 93 career games, including 46 in his K-State career and 27 in 2022-23.
  • Nowell became the 34th player in school history to eclipse 500 points in a season and the second this season after Johnson with his first 3-pointer of the second half… He now has 504 points on the season, which is the most since Barry Brown, Jr. (590) and Dean Wade (533) in 2018-19.

WHAT’S NEXT
K-State wraps up the regular season on Saturday afternoon, as the Wildcats travel to Morgantown, W.Va., to take on a surging West Virginia squad (17-13, 6-11 Big 12) at 1 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now. The Wildcats won the first meeting, 82-76, in overtime, on New Year’s Eve.

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