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Second-Half Run Carries Oklahoma Past 12/14 K-State, 79-65


By Kansas State University Athletics


NORMAN, Okla. ( – Oklahoma connected on an opponent season-tying 11 3-pointers, including three during a key 12-0 run early in the second half, as the Sooners earned a 79-65 win over No. 12/14 Kansas State on Tuesday night before a crowd 5,167 at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma saw five different players hit on at least one 3-pointer, including 3 each by senior Grant Sherfield and freshman Milos Uzan, as the Sooners tied an opponent season-high with 11 made 3-point field goals while making 47.8 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. The Wildcats entered the game with the Big 12’s best and nation’s 12th-best 3-point field goal percentage defense at 28.6 percent.

Sherfield led all scorers with 22 points to go with a game-tying 6 assists and 8 rebounds to help the Sooners (13-13, 3-10 Big 12) snap a 4-game losing streak.

Oklahoma carried the momentum of a 3-pointer by Sherfield that knotted the score at 36-all right before halftime into the second half, using the 12-0 run to build a double-digit lead with just over 16 minutes to play. Sherfield, senior Tanner Groves and Uzan all hit triples during the run.

Down 15 points midway through the second half, the Wildcats got some positive momentum with an 8-1 run that cut the deficit to 61-53 with just over 7 minutes to play. However, the Sooners ended any hopes of a further comeback with a 9-1 run, which was capped by a 3-pointer from sophomore Bijan Cortes – the team’s 11th trey of the night – that extended the lead to 70-54 with less than 5 minutes to play.

Overall, the Sooners scored their 79 points on 51 percent (25-of-49) shooting, including 43 points after halftime on 61.1 percent (11-of-18) shooting.

K-State (19-7, 7-6 Big 12) saw four players score in double figures led by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin, who collected his second double-double of the season with 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Seniors Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson each scored 14 points, while fellow senior Abayomi Iyiola added 11 points.

Sherfield was one of four Sooners who scored in double figures, as he led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-15 field goals to go with a game-tying 6 assists and 8 rebounds in nearly 38 minutes of action. He was joined in double figures by fellow senior Tanner Groves, who had 16 points on 5-of-7 field goals, including 2-of-3 from 3-point range, as well as freshman Milos Uzah and senior Jalen Hill, who scored 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Oklahoma has now won 3 straight in the series with K-State, along with the last 3 at the Lloyd Noble Center.

Oklahoma started the game on fire, running out to a 9-2 lead prompting head coach Jerome Tang to call his first timeout less than 3 minutes into the game. However, the timeout seemed to ignite K-State, as the Wildcats rattled off 11 straight to take a 13-9 lead into the first media timeout at the 15:34 mark.

The Sooners regained the lead at 15-14 with consecutive baskets, including a 3-pointer by freshman Milos Uzan and a dunk by senior Jalen Hill. Although the Wildcats responded with their own 4-0 spurt, the home team again grabbed the momentum with 7 straight points to take a 21-17 advantage with 9:22 before halftime.

K-State chipped away at the deficit, scoring 6 of the next 7 points, including consecutive baskets by junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin to take a 23-22 edge. The teams traded the lead over the next few minutes before the Wildcats twice took 4-point leads on 3-point plays by Tomlin and senior Markquis Nowell. However, the Sooners were able to snag the momentum at the half with a 3-pointer from senior Grant Sherfield to tie the game at 36-all.

Much like the first half, Oklahoma came out hot from halftime, using a 12-0 run to take a 48-38 lead and force Tang to take a timeout with 16:23 remaining. The Sooners got three 3-pointers from Sherfield, senior Tanner Groves and Uzan during the key stretch.

K-State was able to respond with consecutive baskets from juniors Ismael Massoud and Desi Sills to cut into the deficit, but Oklahoma scored 12 of the next 15 points to take a 60-45 advantage with 10:38 to play.

The Wildcats was able to cut the deficit to 61-53 with 7:07 to play after an 8-1 spurt that included 4 points from Nowell and 2 each from senior Keyontae Johnson and Sills. However, once again, the Sooners ran off 9 of the next 10 points to end any such hope of a rally to lead 70-54 with 4:50 remaining.

Head Coach Jerome Tang
On the game…
“I am thankful we had a really good crowd out there of K-State followers who traveled and that was pretty cool. Most importantly, I thought, Coach (Porter) Moser and his staff did a much better job than we did of having his team prepared. And his guys did a great job of executing what they wanted to do. And they kicked our butts, and they deserve all the credit in the world for that. And we did not play hard enough to deserve to win tonight.”

On what he told the team in the locker room…
“I told them that I might have overreacted after the last game (the loss of Texas Tech). I feel like we were satisfied. I wanted them to feel this loss. The great thing about this wonderful game we play is that it’s not football, we don’t have to wait seven days to play again, we get to play a next game here pretty quick. And you can get rid of the bad feeling. But you’ve gotta let this thing sit a little bit. So, I actually just want them to sit in the locker room, because normally I want to get out quick. But I actually just wanted them to sit in it for a little while and kind of feel what it’s like. There’s guys who draft boards, right? And they put a kid’s name on a draft board. And the kid reads that and they think they’re gonna get drafted. Right? What they don’t understand is that none of the guys who do draft boards do drafting, right? And is, and so it’s the same thing with like, bracketology. There are these guys out there that say certain teams are in the NCAA Tournament. But none of those guys pick the teams for the NCAA Tournament. We have to win at least two more games to get to the NCAA Tournament. And that was my message to them that we got to figure this thing out, because we got to win two more games. They have a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament. And that was one of our goals.”

On asking the team about the defensive lapses…
“No, I didn’t ask for an explanation. That’s pretty easy to figure out. We didn’t play hard enough.”

On what teams are trying to do defensively with Markquis Nowell
“Well, they are doing different things with him because they can’t guard him one-on-one. But in the first half, they put too on the ball, and he made the next pass, and the guy who had the ball, the next pass made the pass that led to the assists. And I mean, we were able to score effectively in the first half and scored 36 points. But that wasn’t the issue. We just didn’t play hard enough on the defensive end, to deserve to win tonight.”

On if this was the worst defensive performance of the season…
“At TCU was not great (defensively) So far, effort hadn’t been an issue with our guys. Execution maybe at times. But effort hadn’t been an issue and tonight effort was an issue.”

On David N’Guessan
“He was sick. We weren’t sure if he was going to start. He said he would try, but as you guys saw he couldn’t catch the first pass and he couldn’t sprint back on defense, so we couldn’t play him.”

On the turnovers not being a problem tonight…
“Our guys understand that we have to do a better job of that. And they tried with that tonight. Fourteen turnovers are still too many, but that wasn’t the most glaring thing that stood out to me tonight.”

On team scouting Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson
“Everybody getting scouted right now. And teams are doing a really good job of keeping up on our two best players. And we have to do a better job of manipulating the defense to help them be a little bit more effective. But anytime you’re going against so many really good coaches, and if you don’t play hard enough, you aren’t going to win. You can do a lot of good things and still lose. But if you don’t play hard, you never have a chance to win. And we didn’t give ourselves a chance to win today.”

Team Notes

  • K-State dropped its second straight game to fall to 19-7 overall, including 7-6 in Big 12 play.
  • The Wildcats have now lost 4 of their last 5 games, while they lost their fifth straight Big 12 road game.
  • Oklahoma now leads the all-time series, 112-103, including 67-28 in games played at home… The Sooners have now won 3 straight in the series and 3 in a row at home.
  • K-State scored its 65 points on 43.1 percent shooting (25-of-58), including 20 percent (4-of-20) from 3-point range, and connected on 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from the free throw line.
  • The 11 made 3-pointers by Oklahoma tied the opponent, as Texas and Kansas also hit on 11 treys.
  • Oklahoma held a 32-31 advantage on the glass, while K-State grabbed 11 offensive rebounds… The Wildcats are now 2-4 when losing the rebounding battle.
  • K-State got 20 points from its bench, which was the fourth game in a row with 20 or more bench points.
  • The teams were tied at 36-all at the break, as senior Grant Sherfield connected on his second 3-pointer of the half with 10 seconds… The Wildcats connected on 48.5 percent (16-of-33) from the field in the first half, while the Sooners hit on 45.2 percent (14-of-31)…. Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin led with 13 points.
  • K-State is now 1-1 on the season when tied at the half.

Player Notes

  • Junior Nae’Qwan Tomlin collected his second double-double with 17 points 8-of-15 field goals to go with a game-high 10 rebounds in 32 minutes… Both double doubles have come in Big 12 play… The 10 rebounds tied a season-high… He has now scored in double figures in 15 games, including 6 in Big 12 play.
  • Senior Markquis Nowell scored 14 points on 4-of-13 field goals, including 2-of-9 from 3-point range, and 4-of-4 free throws to go with a game-tying 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals in 37 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 89 career games, including 42 at K-State and 23 this season… He has at least 2 steals in 20 of 26 games this season.
  • Senior Keyontae Johnson scored 14 points on 6-of-11 field goals, including 1-of-3 from 3-point range, and 1-of-3 free throws to go with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals in 39 minutes… He has 63 career double-digit scoring games, including 25 of 26 games in 2022-23.
  • Senior Abayomi Iyiola scored 11 points on 4-of-5 field goals and 3-of-4 free throws with 2 assists, 1 rebound and a block in 18 minutes… He has now scored in double figures in 43 games, including 4 times as a Wildcat.

K-State returns home to Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday, as the Wildcats play host to No. 18/19 Iowa State (16-8, 7-5 Big 12) at 1 p.m., CT on ESPN. The Cyclones won the first meeting, 80-76, at home on Jan. 24.